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New training programme launched at Arnish

Published: 26/06/2019

Lews Castle College UHI has teamed up with BiFab and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to provide new engineering training opportunities at the Arnish yard in the Isle of Lewis.

As part of a wider initiative to upskill the local workforce, the programme will help meet the demands of the current contract for the manufacturing of foundation piles for the Moray East Offshore Windfarm development.

Highlights of the new programme, which will get underway this summer, include:

  • Submerged-arc welder training for seven candidates trained at the fabrication and welding workshop at the college before going to testing and production at the Arnish facility.
  • Work placements for four students from engineering courses at Lews Castle College. They will have the opportunity to work on placement at the yard while given a short rotation through the main departments before being allocated to one of projects, health and safety, quality control, plating or welding for the remainder of the placement.
  • From September 2019 the full-time fabrication and welding courses at the college will include training on submerged-arc welding.

In addition to these opportunities the team are exploring how Lews Castle College can help deliver longer term training to the local workforce in the form of SVQs and Modern Apprenticeships.

The new programme reflects the strong collaborative effort locally to capitalise on the investment at Arnish.

Rachel Mackenzie, area manager at HIE’s Outer Hebrides area team, said: “Long-term investment from HIE and the Scottish Government has developed the Arnish yard into a world-class facility where excellent infrastructure and equipment match a superb natural location for renewables manufacturing.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with BiFab/DF Barnes and Lews Castle College UHI on this new programme that provides engineering training opportunities for local students. This is great news and further demonstrates the islands’ capability to support the offshore wind sector. It will expand BiFab’s skilled workforce, which is in an excellent position to deliver this major part of current and future contracts.”

In welcoming the launch of the new programme, Iain Macmillan, principal and chief executive, Lews Castle College said: “The fabrication yard at Arnish is a first-class facility that has seen substantial investment in hardware over recent years.  The College is pleased to be involved with DF Barnes/BiFab and local agencies in ensuring there is an equally first class, highly skilled workforce in the islands that will be equipped to meet current & future skills demands from a vital sector of the local economy.”

Sean Power, vice president business development DF Barnes, owner of BiFab, said: “We are really pleased to be working in collaboration with Lews Castle College, HIE and other stakeholders to provide local students and apprentices with fresh opportunities at our Arnish yard.

“We have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome and support we have received from the local community. From the outset, we have made clear our investment programme represents a long-term commitment from DF Barnes.

“These training courses and associated placements are vital for us all in maintaining a skilled workforce that can support and sustain the Arnish yard. We would like to thank the college, HIE and everyone in the local community for coming together to create a viable, tailored solution to our current needs.”

For more information on engineering courses offered at the College visit their website or contact the Admission team by email at or by telephone at 01851 770000.

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