The Underwater Centre, along with Lochaber College UHI, is set to deliver a brand new qualification specifically to target those living in the local community. It has been designed so that previous subsea experience will not be necessary. The Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) Subsea Support Skills Course was devised and written in just over three months and has been fully accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
A total of eight students will be selected for the course, which is being funded by the European Social Fund, and is due to start at the beginning of next year.
The eighteen week course will cover a range of subjects including electronics, ROV systems, fibre optics and lifting equipment. Central to the course will be the hands on experience of flying a vehicle and training in lifelike conditions.
Students will be based at The Underwater Centre for 10 weeks and at Lochaber College for the remaining eight.
Students who complete the course will then be able to work in the ROV sector which is set to see a significant growth in the next four years, according to a new report from top industry analysts, Douglas Westwood, who have revealed that, following a slow down this year, the ROV industry will be worth $3.2billion by 2014.
The ROV Subsea Skills Course is a customised award - a bespoke course which has been specifically designed to meet the needs of The Underwater Centre - and will be the first subsea course offered at Lochaber College.
It will build on the existing strong relationship between The Underwater Centre and Lochaber College - the Centre's students already use the college facilities, such as the Learning Resource Centre.
General Manager of The Underwater Centre, Steve Ham, said the course is an excellent opportunity to provide the local community with the opportunity of working in the thriving ROV sector.
"The subsea sector will continue to grow over the next few years and this has been underlined by the recent Douglas Westwood report. As oil and gas companies need to explore even greater depths to extract hydrocarbons, there will be an increased need for ROVs," he said.
"It is an exciting, rewarding and highly lucrative career and we are delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to the local community through our partnership with Lochaber College.
"Our team have liaised very closely with staff at the college to devise this bespoke course which will allow a student with no previous subsea experience to become qualified ROV pilots. This is what makes this course such an exciting and unique training development as it opens the door to a very worthwhile career.
"As with all of our subsea courses, our strength of offering is in our expert staff, our facilities and the fact that our students benefit from realistic training conditions using industry standard equipment."
Douglas Macdiarmid, Chief Executive of Lochaber College, said: Lochaber College is enthusiastic about this new development in our partnership with the Underwater Training Centre. This is a wonderful opportunity for local people to train for employment in this vital industry all the more so as the fees for this pilot course are being paid for by the European Social Fund.