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Weekly Update, 26th September 2011

Enabling Activities:

I met this week with Susan Johnston of JobCentre Plus, to discuss their important role in supporting the area’s economy. I also introduced her to colleagues form Highland Council’s Employability service in the area. Speaking at a meeting of the Make The Right Connections project board this week, I was keen to highlight the powerful range of tools we now have to help support people to access the right skills and the right job opportunities.

The enabling works for the “Make the Right Connections” skills transition programme are now reaching completion with the submission of a report matching new market and emerging sector opportunities with existing supply chain capabilities. Once partner comments are received Caithness Chamber of Commerce will be making the reports available to download. The programme was promoted at a member event held this week by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, at which guest speaker Raymond More from Robertson Highland talked about the changing nature of public sector procurement, and the implications it has for the way companies seek business.  In the meantime I continue to discuss with partners opportunities to do more detailed follow-up work on specific skills requirements.

A group of organisations including DSRL, the ERI, British Science Association, Caithness Science Festival, STEM Ambassadors this week held an event in the newly-opened ETEC facility at North Highland College to celebrate the range of activities going on in support of science, engineering technology and maths. It was generally felt to have been a great success, bringing home just how powerful a range of work is happening in our area. Many attendees spoke of how valuable it would be to open this type of event up to the wider public. Congratulations go to Pat Kieran and colleagues for pulling the event together.

As previously reported, the NDA is currently considering its UK-wide information management requirements, and we await the outcome of those discussions in order to learn the way ahead for the National Nuclear Archive facility earmarked for ground beside Wick Airport. In the meantime DSRL as project managers of the NNA project held a drop-in session in Wick this week to show members of the public the proposed plans for the facility. Over 60 people visited the displays and general feedback was reported to be positive. (see communications below for press coverage). You can download a short information sheet on the facility from the CNSRP website at Further information on the proposals from DSRL’s Fiona Bruce (

As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • I was on-site at Dounreay this week as DSRL opened an information room for staff and contractors, highlighting the work being done by CNSRP and by DSRL/ NDA to support the broadening of the area’s economy. Nigel Lowe, the NDA’s new Site Programme Director for Dounreay officially opened the facility. I hope it will be a useful means of keeping site staff updated on progress.
  • Following a number of local discussions involving organisations, it was good to see coverage this week of Graham Construction’s intention to use local labour for elements of the construction of the Low Level Waste Facility at Dounreay, expected to create 100 jobs over the next two years.
  • The NDA’s public drop-in session in Wick this week to show plans for the National Nuclear Archive Facility (see enabling activities above)  was covered in the John O’Groat Journal at
  • More positive news for the area’s food & drink sector with coverage this week of the success of Reid’s of Caithness in securing a contract to supply celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s JME range. (not online)