ScotWind developers commit £900K to expand UHI schools STEM engagement programme

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today (Wednesday) that a University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) initiative which promotes careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has received a £900,000 funding boost from the offshore wind industry.

Primary school children across the north of Scotland will enjoy enhanced lessons thanks to an expansion of UHI’s STEM outreach programme, funded by four offshore wind project developers.

Over the last six years, UHI has delivered a STEM outreach programme to early years settings and primary schools across the Highland Council area, providing materials and training to teachers to build their confidence and knowledge in subjects they may not be familiar with. This included the creation of ‘Lend a Lab’ boxes, which contain themed, age-specific content and lesson plans to support teachers in delivering STEM topics in an engaging way.

UHI will now be able to extend its outreach programme to schools in Orkney, the Western Isles, Shetland, Argyll and Bute, Moray and Perthshire local authority areas. The development has been made possible thanks to £900,000 of funding led by the West of Orkney Windfarm, a joint venture comprising Corio Generation, TotalEnergies and RIDG, alongside Floating Energy Allyance and their Buchan Offshore Wind project, Thistle Wind Partners and Ossian, a joint venture project led by SSER, Marubeni and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

The expansion will be supported through the employment of eight part-time and two full-time STEM coordinators. The full-time roles will be located in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney thanks to additional, targeted support from the West of Orkney Windfarm.

During the three-year programme, the STEM coordinators will work with UHI partners, schools and teachers to deliver lesson plans and equipment, including ‘Lend a Lab’ boxes, to support a range of topics, all aligned with the Curriculum for Excellence. They will also work with other agencies involved in STEM outreach to consider local needs and seek new partners and additional funding to ensure the STEM development programme can be sustainable over the longer term.

The initiative is the first co-funded project to be announced following the launch of the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council's collaborative framework charter in May, where ScotWind developers committed to working together for the benefit of Scotland as a whole. It is also the first project to be supported under UHI’s new sustainability fund, which is being established to help accelerate the region’s transition to a green and sustainable economy.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the initiative during the opening address at the Scottish Renewables Offshore Wind Conference in Glasgow. She said:

“The Scottish Government’s draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, published earlier this month, sets out a very clear vision to capitalise on the enormous opportunities that a net zero energy system offers the industry, our economy and our climate.

“With ambitions to nearly double the renewable electricity generation capacity currently in operation while investing billions of pounds across the Scottish Supply chain, ScotWind represents a massive step forward in delivering this vision.

“A programme as transformational as ScotWind has the potential to realise even wider benefits, and I welcome this partnership between UHI and key ScotWind partners to expand STEM education across the north of Scotland, helping the next generation of our energy workforce develop the skills they need to embrace our net zero future.”

Alison Wilson, Director of Advancement and Alumni Engagement at UHI, said: “This is the largest package of corporate giving we have received and UHI is hugely grateful to these developers for their considerable support. The ScotWind development provides fantastic possibilities for young people in our region to contribute to the green economy. We want to make sure that every young person, across all of our communities has the chance to be inspired by these opportunities, to be able to pursue their studies and to develop skills to achieve careers in the sector. Industry and academia working together like this can make a difference to the region and the choices available to our young people now and in the future.”

Stephen Kerr, Project Director at West of Orkney Windfarm, the lead developer in the initiative, said: “It’s vital that we invest in the next generation. Offshore wind offers the prospect of rewarding careers for children in primary school today. By supporting this programme, we hope as many of these jobs as possible are secured by young people who live in the communities in which we operate.

“We’re particularly delighted to be funding directly the two full-time positions in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney as part of our overall contribution. Our sponsorship is an important first step in a wider multi-million pound project-level investment initiative which the West of Orkney Windfarm, supported by its shareholders, TotalEnergies, Corio Generation and RIDG, has committed to support skills development and the offshore wind supply chain.”

David Willson, Senior Project Manager of Ossian, said: “The future workforce is crucial to realising the goals we have for net zero but also ensuring pupils have the choice to learn about STEM along with industry contact. Ossian’s continued collaboration with UHI and fellow ScotWind projects will support the expansion of the STEM programme which will help build skills across the Highlands and Islands region and create the future workforce in Offshore Wind.

“The support for the STEM programme is the first initiative under Ossian’s broader Memorandum of Understanding with UHI, ensuring that education and industry are aligned and work together to shine a light on the opportunities that exist within this innovative sector in the years ahead.”

Ian Taylor, Project Director, Thistle Wind Partners, said: “By the end of this decade, we will see a truly epic scale of renewables infrastructure arising in the seabed around Scotland. This is an engineering odyssey for all of us as we commission the next generation of turbines and solve many STEM challenges along the way. We want to share that excitement and knowledge with local communities - inspiring young people with the conviction that they can be part of this energy revolution. This drive goes hand in hand with our outreach to the existing supply chain, supporting the transition to renewables for those who are mid-career.”

Alasdair MacLeod, Project Director of Buchan Offshore Wind, said: “The delivery of the ScotWind projects and the wider net zero goal will rely on increased levels of STEM qualification in the workforce. Although that is a challenge, it is also an opportunity for those coming through education to see a future in a STEM career in Scotland. The UHI STEM outreach programme aligns with our aim of supporting skills development and increasing awareness of the career opportunities associated with offshore wind and we are delighted to support UHI in its delivery of the scheme.” 


Tha luchd-leasachaidh ScotWind a' gealltainn £900K gus prògram conaltraidh STEM sgoiltean UHI a leudachadh

Dh' ainmich Prìomh Mhinistear na h-Alba Nicola Sturgeon an-diugh (Diciadain) gun robh iomairt Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean (UHI) a tha a' brosnachadh dhreuchdan ann an saidheans, teicneòlas, innleadaireachd agus matamataig (STEM) air taic-airgid de £900,000 fhaighinn bho ghnìomhachas na gaoithe aig muir.

Gheibh clann bun-sgoile air feadh ceann a tuath na h-Alba leasanan leasaichte mar thoradh air leudachadh air prògram for-ruigheachd STEM aig UHI, air a mhaoineachadh le ceathrar luchd-leasachaidh phròiseactan gaoithe aig muir.

Thairis air na sia bliadhna a dh'fhalbh, tha UHI air prògram for-ruigheachd STEM a lìbhrigeadh gu suidheachaidhean tràth-bhliadhnaichean agus bun-sgoiltean air feadh sgìre Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd, a' toirt stuthan agus trèanadh do thidsearan gus am misneachd agus an eòlas a thogail ann an cuspairean air nach eil iad eòlach. Ghabh seo a-steach cruthachadh bhogsaichean ‘Lend a Lab', anns a bheil susbaint cuspaireil, aois-shònraichte agus planaichean leasain, gus taic a thoirt do thidsearan ann a bhith a' lìbhrigeadh chuspairean STEM ann an dòigh tharraingeach.

Bidh cothrom aig UHI a-nis am prògram for-ruigheachd a leudachadh gu sgoiltean ann an sgìrean ùghdarrasan ionadail Arcaibh, na h-Eileanan Siar, Sealtainn, Earra-Ghàidheal is Bòd, Moireibh agus Siorrachd Pheairt. Chaidh an leasachadh a dhèanamh comasach le taing do £900,000 de mhaoineachadh air a stiùireadh le Tuath-gaoithe Taobh an Iar Arcaibh, co-iomairt air a dhèanamh suas de Corio Generation, TotalEnergies agus RIDG, còmhla ri Floating Energy Allyance agus am pròiseact Buchan Offshore Wind, Thistle Wind Partners agus Oisean, pròiseact co-iomairt air a stiùireadh le SSER, Marubeni agus Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

Thèid taic a thoirt don leudachadh tro bhith a' fastadh ochdnar cho-òrdanaichean STEM pàirt-ùine agus dithis làn-ùine. Bidh na dreuchdan làn-ùine stèidhichte ann an Gallaibh, Cataibh agus Arcaibh ri linn taic chuimsichte a bharrachd bho Thuathanas-gaoithe Taobh Siar Arcaibh.

Tron phrògram trì-bliadhna, obraichidh co-òrdanaichean STEM le com-pàirtichean UHI, sgoiltean agus tidsearan gus planaichean leasanan agus uidheamachd a lìbhrigeadh, a' gabhail a-steach bogsaichean ‘Lend a Lab', gus taic a thoirt do raon de chuspairean, uile a rèir a' Churraicealam airson Sàr-mhathais. Bidh iad cuideachd ag obair le buidhnean eile a tha an sàs ann an ruigsinneachd STEM gus beachdachadh air feumalachdan ionadail agus com-pàirtichean ùra, agus maoineachadh a bharrachd a shireadh gus dèanamh cinnteach gum bi am prògram leasachaidh STEM seasmhach san fhad-ùine.

Is e an iomairt a' chiad phròiseact co-mhaoinichte a chaidh ainmeachadh às deidh cairt frèam-obrach co-obrachail Comhairle Cumhachd Gaoithe Far-Chladaich na h-Alba fhoillseachadh sa Chèitean, far an do gheall luchd-leasachaidh ScotWind a bhith ag obair còmhla gu buannachd na h-Alba air fad. Is e seo cuideachd a' chiad phròiseact a gheibh taic fo mhaoin seasmhachd ùr UHI, a thathas a' stèidheachadh gus cuideachadh le gluasad na sgìre gu eaconamaidh uaine is seasmhach a luathachadh.

A' lìbhrigeadh na h-òraid fhosglaidh aig Co-labhairt Cumhachd Gaoithe Far-Chladaich Alba Ath-nuadhachail an Glaschu, thuirt Ms Sturgeon: Tha dreachd Ro-innleachd Lùtha agus Plana Eadar-ghluasaid cothromach aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba, a chaidh fhoillseachadh na bu thràithe air a' mhìos, a' mìneachadh sealladh fìor shoilleir gus brath a ghabhail air na cothroman mòra a tha siostam cumhachd neoni lom a' tabhann don ghnìomhachas, don eaconamaidh againn agus don aimsir againn.

"Le mòr-mhiannan air an comas gineadh dealain ath-nuadhachail a th' ann an-dràsta a dhùblachadh, fhad 's a thathar a' tasgadh bhilleanan de notaichean tarsainn sruth solair na h-Alba, tha ScotWind a' riochdachadh ceum mòr air adhart ann a bhith a' lìbhrigeadh na lèirsinn seo.

"Tha comas aig prògram cho cruth-atharrachail ri ScotWind buannachdan eadhon nas fharsainge a thoirt gu buil, agus tha mi a' cur fàilte air a' chom-pàirteachas seo eadar UHI agus prìomh chom-pàirtichean ScotWind gus foghlam STEM a leudachadh air feadh ceann a tuath na h-Alba, a' cuideachadh an ath ghinealaich de ar luchd-obrach lùtha air na sgilean a tha a dhìth orra a leasachadh a dh'fheumas iad gus gabhail ri àm teachdail neoni lom."

Thuirt Alison NicUilleim, Stiùiriche Adhartais agus Com-pàirteachaidh Alumni aig UHI: "Seo am pasgan de thabhartasan corporra as motha a tha sinn air fhaighinn agus tha UHI air leth taingeil don luchd-leasachaidh seo airson an taic mhòir. Tha leasachadh ScotWind a' toirt chothroman air leth do dhaoine òga san sgìre againn cur ris an eaconamaidh uaine. Tha sinn airson dèanamh cinnteach gu bheil cothrom aig a h-uile duine òg, thar ar coimhearsnachdan air fad, a bhith air am brosnachadh leis na cothroman sin, a bhith comasach air an cuid ionnsachaidh a leantainn agus sgilean a leasachadh gus dreuchdan fhaighinn san roinn. Faodaidh gnìomhachas agus an saoghal acadaimigeach eadar-dhealachadh a dhèanamh don roinn agus do na roghainnean a tha rim faighinn don òigridh againn an-dràsta agus san àm ri teachd."

Thuirt Stephen MacIlleChiar, Stiùiriche Pròiseict aig Tuath-gaoithe an Iar Arcaibh, am prìomh leasaiche san iomairt: "Tha e deatamach gun dèan sinn tasgadh anns an ath ghinealach. Tha gaoth aig muir a' toirt cothrom air dreuchdan buannachdail do chloinn sa bhun-sgoil an-diugh. Le bhith a' toirt taic don phrògram seo, tha sinn an dòchas gum bi na h-uimhir de na h-obraichean sin air an daingneachadh le daoine òga a tha a' fuireach anns na coimhearsnachdan sa bheil sinn ag obair.

"Tha sinn gu sònraichte toilichte a bhith a' maoineachadh na dà dhreuchd làn-ùine ann an Gallaibh, Cataibh agus Arcaibh mar phàirt den tabhartas iomlan againn. Tha ar taic-airgid na chiad cheum cudromach ann an iomairt tasgaidh ioma-mhillean not nas fharsainge aig ìre pròiseict, a tha Tuath-gaoithe Taobh Siar Arcaibh, le taic bho an luchd-earrannan, TotalEnergies, Corio Generation agus RIDG, air gealltainn taic a thoirt do leasachadh sgilean agus don t-sruth solair gaoithe aig muir."

Thuirt Dàibhidh Willson, Àrd-Mhanaidsear Phròiseactan Oisein:

"Tha an sgioba-obrach san àm ri teachd deatamach gus na h-amasan a th' againn airson neoni lom a thoirt gu buil ach cuideachd dèanamh cinnteach gu bheil roghainn aig sgoilearan ionnsachadh mu STEM còmhla ri conaltradh gnìomhachais. Bheir co-obrachadh leantainneach Oisein le UHI agus le co-phròiseactan ScotWind taic do leudachadh a' phrògraim STEM, a chuidicheas le bhith a' togail sgilean air feadh sgìre na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean agus le sgioba-obrach an ama ri teachd aig Offshore Wind a chruthachadh.

"Is e an taic do phrògram STEM a' chiad iomairt fon Mheòrachan Tuigse nas fharsainge aig Oisean le UHI, a' dèanamh cinnteach gu bheil foghlam agus gnìomhachas air an aon rèir agus ag obair còmhla gus solas a lasadh air na cothroman a tha ann san roinn ùr-ghnàthaich seo sna bliadhnaichean ri teachd."

Thuirt Iain Mac an Tàilleir, Stiùiriche Pròiseict, Thistle Wind Partners: "Ro dheireadh na deichead seo, chì sinn fìor sgèile de bhun-structair ath-nuadhachail ag èirigh air grunnd na mara timcheall na h-Alba. Is e odyssey innleadaireachd a tha seo dhuinn uile agus sinn a' coimiseanadh an ath ghinealach de roth-uidheaman agus a' fuasgladh iomadh dùbhlan STEM air an t-slighe. Tha sinn airson an toileachas agus an t-eòlas sin a cho-roinn le coimhearsnachdan ionadail - a' brosnachadh dhaoine òga leis an dearbhadh gun urrainn dhaibh a bhith nam pàirt den ar-a-mach lùtha seo. Tha an iomairt seo a' dol làmh ri làimh leis ar ruigheachd gu an t-sruth solair a th' ann mar-thà, a' toirt taic don ghluasad gu cumhachd ath-nuadhachail dhaibhsan a tha ann am meadhan an dreuchd."

Thuirt Alasdair MacLeòid, Stiùiriche Pròiseict Buchan Offshore Wind: "Bidh lìbhrigeadh phròiseactan ScotWind agus an amas neoni nas fharsainge an urra ri ìrean nas àirde de theisteanas STEM san luchd-obrach. Ged a tha sin na dhùbhlan, tha e cuideachd na chothrom dhaibhsan a tha a' tighinn tro fhoghlam gus an àm ri teachd fhaicinn ann an dreuchd le STEM ann an Alba. Tha prògram for-ruigheachd STEM UHI a' co-thaobhadh ris an amas againn a bhith a' toirt taic do leasachadh sgilean agus a bhith ag àrdachadh mothachadh mu na cothroman dreuchdail co-cheangailte ri gaoth aig muir, agus tha sinn air leth toilichte taic a thoirt do UHI ann a bhith a' lìbhrigeadh an sgeama."