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New facility for renewables industry trainees

Published: 15/01/2024

People working in or entering Scotland’s growing renewables industry will soon have access to a new £1.22m training facility in Inverness.

People working in or entering Scotland’s growing renewables industry will soon have access to a new training facility in Inverness.

The £1.22m Renewable Energy Training Centre, being established by Aurora Energy Services Ltd, (AES) will be the first of its kind in the region.

It’s expected to make an important contribution to training thousands of Scotland’s workers and to the country’s transition to a zero-carbon economy.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved up to £173,625 towards the cost of fitting out a building, close to Inverness Harbour, that will house the new facility.

The 11,000 sq ft centre will focus on retraining oil and gas sector workers and preparing new entrants for deployment in the UK’s nascent renewables industries.

It has been fully accredited by the Global Wind Organisation (GWO), the world’s leading safety training body representing wind turbine manufacturers, owners and operators.

It’s also accredited by IRATA, the world’s leading authority on industrial rope access and training, and by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB).

Aurora will provide safety training, accreditation and advanced technical skills courses for more than 1,000 people a year, including inaugural and refresher courses needed to work in the onshore and offshore wind sector and other renewables industries.

Confirming the HIE funding, Brian Robson senior development manager with the agency’s Inner Moray Firth Team, said:

“The renewables sector in the Highlands and Islands continues to grow steadily and the recent designation of the green freeport will support this. There will be a corresponding increase in demand for energy skills in the coming years and this latest project by Aurora Energy will help meet this demand.

“We’re very pleased to be able to support the project and look forward to continuing to work with the company as it develops the centre.”

A report by the Offshore Wind Industry Council in June claimed that to manage the UK offshore wind project pipeline, the industry needs to be able to attract and retain an average of 10,000 people a year, and forecast that by 2030 a workforce of more than 104,000 will be needed, more than three times the current level of 32,257.

Until now, prospective wind sector workers in the region have had to travel to Aberdeen, the central belt or north England to complete the required safety and technical training qualifications. Aurora believes its Renewables Energy Training Centre will appeal to school and college leavers in the region and to employers likely to find Inverness a more convenient training location.

David Duguid, Aurora Energy Services operations director UK North, said:

“Wind energy project operators and developers are struggling to recruit staff with the prerequisite competency levels and that’s even before many of the recent successful ScotWind bids for fixed and floating windfarms get up and running.

“If Scotland is serious about meeting net-zero levels by 2045 we have to put in place the workforce to construct, maintain and service the vast wind-related infrastructure which is ongoing or coming down the line, and Aurora’s Inverness facility can play an integral part in that process.

“As the Highland’s only triple badged GWO, IRATA and ECITB accredited training centre, we expect there will be a lot of interest from experienced oil and gas workers who want to obtain the necessary qualifications which will allow them to transition into renewables.”

He added:

“Our strategic location in the heart of the Highlands means employers and individuals can cut their carbon footprint in travelling to and from our accreditation centre, and with shorter journeys during winter months it cuts hazardous journeys and improves safety.

“A career in renewables has many advantages, not least that the wind sector can cater for people with the desire to work on local assets and have more time at home with their families, while the adventurous types who are looking to travel can access wind sector job opportunities all year round in the northern and southern hemispheres.”

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