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Caithness News Bulletins February 2004

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Dounreay News    

Dounreay  is  to recruit its 1000th engineering apprentice in the same year that the UK Atomic Energy Authority is fifty years old.

A  total  of  993  young  people from across the Highlands and Islands have joined  UKAEA's  engineering  apprenticeship  scheme  at Dounreay since the first intake in 1955.

Recruitment adverts for the next intake of seven engineering apprentices in August this year are being published in local newspapers this week.

Energy  Minister  Stephen  Timms  said:  "I'm pleased that the Government's commitment  to  cleaning  up  the  nuclear legacy is maintaining Dounreay's excellent  reputation  as  a  place  of opportunity for young people in the Highlands  of  Scotland  to learn new skills. This milestone underlines the contribution  that  Dounreay  has  made,  and is continuing to make, to the socio-economic wellbeing of the region."

Hugh Ross explaining the lay-out of an electrical sub-station to (from left)
Hayley Davidson from Keiss, a first year decommissioning apprentice;
Brydon Mackay from Thurso, a first year engineering apprentice; and
David McArthur from Thurso, a first year engineering apprentice.

Dounreay  site director Norman Harrison said: "The tradition and quality of training  opportunities  for  young people in the Highlands and Islands has always  been  regarded  as  one  of  the  major  benefits  of Dounreay. I'm delighted  that  in  such  an historic year for the site and the UKAEA, our continuing  investment  in  the  future  of  young people from this area is making its own history.

"Also  this year we will see the total number of scientific and secretarial trainees  recruited  at  Dounreay rise to 990, the second intake of our new modern  apprentices  in  decommissioning  and the continuing recruitment by many  of  our  locally-based  contractors  to their own apprenticeships and training  schemes.  These are the skills that can sustain the reputation of Caithness as a world-class centre for decommissioning expertise."

Many  apprentices  have risen through the ranks of the UKAEA over the years and  others  have  gone  on  to  develop careers in industry throughout the world.

David  Mackay from Wick was part of the first intake in 1955. He joined the British  Oxygen  Company in 1962, went on to become director of engineering at  Honeywell  UK and retired as director and general manager of JVC UK. He is  visiting  professor  of engineering at Strathclyde University, a former member  of  the  British  Design  Council and an Honorary Fellow of Glasgow University  and Bell College of Technology. In 1998, he was awarded the OBE for services to design and industry.

"Before Dounreay, it was a choice between fishing and farming if you wanted to  train  locally,"  he  recalled.  "The  apprenticeships  were  a  unique opportunity, and I can think of a number of people who served their time at Dounreay  and went on to become directors and chairmen of companies. It was a great opportunity for young people in Caithness."

Hugh  Ross  was  a 16-year-old living in the nearby village of Reay when he was accepted for the 1956 intake of engineering apprentices. Today, he is a senior  electrical engineer (Deputy Senior Authorised Person Electrical) at Dounreay  and  will retire in May 2005 after a lifetime's work at the site.  "I  remember  the  great  enthusiasm  and  excitement  there  was about the opportunities  for  young  people which this new project had brought to the area.  Now,  almost  50  years  later,  I  am  very  pleased  to  see fresh
opportunities  arising  for  a  new  generation  of apprentices to train at Dounreay during decommissioning of the site," he said.

The Apprenticeships
Advertisements for the 04/05 intake of engineering apprentices are being published this week in the Caithness Courier, Northern Times and John O'Groat Journal.

The apprenticeship is a comprehensive training programme lasting up to four years. A year of engineering foundation at North Highland
College, Thurso, is followed by up to three years of training and work experience, with day-release for academic studies. The programme leads to a SVQ Level 3 in Engineering Maintenance and progression to an HNC in Mechanical, Electrical or Electronic Engineering.