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CNSRP Advisory & Executive Boards – joint statement, June 2014

CNSRP Partners welcome skills investments

Confidence in the area’s economic future is underpinned by investment in its future workforce – that was the message from members of CNSRP’s Advisory Board in their recent annual joint session with members of the CNSRP Executive Board.

Members had heard during their meeting about the range of work going on in schools, colleges and workplaces to prepare the north’s next generation of workers to play a key role in the area’s post-Dounreay economy. With work progressing on the decommissioning of the Dounreay site, members discussed the valuable work in Farr, Thurso and Wick High Schools, and particularly welcomed the continuing success of student teams from Farr and Wick in the Young Enterprise Scotland awards, with Farr’s “My Wee Highland Hame” team winning the Scottish competition, and this week going on to win Best Presentation at the UK Final. The teams have benefited from advice and support from Caithness Chamber of Commerce and from local business Atlantic Marketing.

Meanwhile Wick High School students have followed up last year’s success in the UK-wide “Apps for Good” competition, with their “Chore Attack” team winning the Productivity Award at last week’s event in London’s Barbican Centre, and teacher Chris Aitken’s inspirational work also being recognised with an award at the same event.

Advisory Board Chairman Drew Hendry commented: “The Advisory Board members are here to scrutinise progress on our Delivery Plan for Caithness & North Sutherland, so it is pleasing to see that efforts from CNSRP partners and other organisations over the last few years are beginning to bear fruit. We also heard encouraging news of employability work going on across Skills Development Scotland, North Highland College, Caithness Chamber, Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, which will further boost the chances of young people gaining access to the right kinds of skills.”

Seonag Campbell, Area Manager for Skills Development Scotland, said “We are really pleased to see that key indicators such as the School Leavers’ Destination Results for High Schools in Caithness & North Sutherland are positive, and particularly pleased to see the good work being done at Wick High being reflected in those figures. We feel that Caithness/ North Sutherland is an exciting proving ground for skills investment, and are working at the moment with partners to develop an “advanced apprenticeship” model that will further help young people. We will be trialling this in the area because we see it as the right place to take an innovative model like this forward.”

CNSRP Executive Board Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver welcomed the news of recent successes: “At our joint session with the Advisory Board I said that, from experience of having led Engineering UK and helping develop the national “Big Bang” science education project, I know how difficult it can be to attempt to make a transformational impact on skills issues. However, I do feel that we are punching above our weight in Caithness and North Sutherland, because we have collectively recognised our priorities and are making inroads into both skills infrastructure (via new schools in Wick and the new North Highland College buildings) and skills development (via new ways of working and by developing excellent industry links).

“As we continue to focus on positioning our economy to benefit from opportunities in key sectors I believe that the successes we are seeing now will stand us in good stead to maintain a healthy skillsbase in the future.”