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Funding boost for a career in commercial diving - The Underwater Centre Blog

Funding boost for a career in commercial diving

The Underwater Centre, Fort William, has been awarded funding to train candidates for the commercial diving industry within Scotland.  The funding is part of the Energy Skills Challenge Fund and has been awarded by Skills Development Scotland.  It is a move towards making sure that trainees, with the right practical attributes to become commercial divers, have a chance to undertake the training – applicants will only be awarded funding after passing a more rigorous assessment procedure.

The funding is available to candidates with a Scottish postcode.

Funding for commercial diver training

The funding will allow the prospective students the opportunity to undertake one of two courses – The Underwater Centre’s New Construction Career Package or its Premium Industry Package – for half the normal fee, giving them the support and training needed to get started as commercial divers.

The new 11-week Construction Package will provide training in the statutory components of the Health and Safety Executive’s commercial diving curriculum, as well as training in the use of subsea tools and practical exercises in carrying out construction and maintenance tasks underwater, such as subsea welding and cutting, and rigging and slinging operations.

The 13-week Premium Industry Package incorporates all of the components of the Construction package, but also includes training in subsea inspection techniques.  Diving provides an excellent career choice, with multiple benefits.

85% graduates working within 3 months

A recent survey showed 85% of the Centre’s students are working within three months of graduating.  Training is particularly geared towards equipping and up-skilling those with transferrable skills and a hands-on attitude will help prepare the next generation of commercial divers for the wide range of career opportunities available within this sector, including Scotland’s renewable industry and the oil and gas sector.

As well as providing the mandatory HSE commercial diver training, they also include essential vocational skills, which form an excellent base for anyone seeking a career in inshore or offshore air diving.

Dramatic skills shortage

The news comes at a time when the UK is facing a dramatic skills shortage in the oil and gas sector, as well as an ageing population of commercial divers – a recent report by Oil and Gas UK shows that in 2011, more than a third of the UK’s ‘core’ diving personnel were aged between 45-54 years.  The Energy Skills Challenge Fund aims to encourage those currently working in construction and engineering-related jobs to consider retraining for a variety of jobs within the energy sector.

Steve Ham, General Manager at the Centre, said: ‘At present, we are not training sufficient numbers of commercial divers to meet the UK demand.  The commercial diver population is ageing and there is likely to be a dramatic skills shortage which will have to be met by commercial divers from out with the UK.

‘The Underwater Centre currently trains more divers from overseas than from within the UK; for example in 2010, the Centre trained more Italian divers than British divers. The low levels of UK candidates is not based on employment prospects, but is due to there not being a mechanism to allow candidates to fund training.

‘We therefore very much welcome and support the Scottish Government’s initiative to retrain Scottish people and get them into Scottish jobs, and we will continue working with diving contractors to try to help our students into great commercial diving jobs.’

Anyone interested in more information about the funding should contact 01397 703786 or email

44 comments on “Funding boost for a career in commercial diving

  1. Hi there have you got some info on this I’m currently a master scuba diver and would very much like to get into the commercial diving sector, many thanks mark flay

    1. Hi Mark, one of our student advisors will email you shortly with information about the funding and eligibility.

  2. Hi, I’m 43 years old and have never done any diving before. Would I be eligible and is the funding available for someone completely new to this ?

    1. Hello Barry,

      Thank you for your questions.
      There is no age limit on attending the Commercial diving courses, we tend to get candidates coming on course from late teens/early 20’s to late 30’s early 40’s.
      The only pre-requisite to attend is that you must have a HSE Divers Medical in place and this must be re-newed every year for you to continue to work in the industry.

      There is funding options at the moment for Scottish citizens through the SDS fund or there is the option to apply for a PCDL loan through either the Co-op bank or Barclays bank.

      For full funding and course information please contact me direct on or call me on Tel: 01397 707 106.

      Best Regards

      Ingrid Vickers
      Student Advisor.

  3. Hi there I’m 21 years old and currently work offshore as a steward but really want to dive as a career. I live in scotland so therefore have a scottish postcode. I’m just wondering what else you need to be eligible for the funding? I’m looking to do the premium industry package course.


    1. Hi Adam, Maggie has dropped you an email with all the details about eligiblity – good luck!

  4. Hello,
    As discussed a month or so ago, I’m looking at a course date in feb next year. Would I be eligible for the funding with a view to start training next year?

    1. Hi Mario, thanks for the message. Ingrid will call you directly to disuss the funding and your eligibility. Thanks.

  5. Hi,

    Could you forward me the details of the funding available and information on the course content.



    1. Hi Stephen, no problem, one of our student advisors will be in touch. Thanks.

  6. Could you send me some information about the course and funding eligibility. Thanks

    1. Hi Richie, no problem, one of our Student Advisors will be in touch directly with all the info for you.

  7. Hi does the funding and training scheme have a time frame to it and what eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for it? cheers andrew

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Yes the time frame for the funding is the first quarter of 2013 for attending either the Premium or Construction package and if successful the funding will pay 50% towards your course and accommodation if taken in-house. To see if you are successful for grant assistance you must first attend an Intro Assessment Day which will cover an aptitude and in-water test and then finally an interview with the Diving Manager.
      I will e-mail you direct with the full funding requirements and the next assessment dates.,
      Thanks, Lorna
      Student Advisor

  8. Hi Lorna, please could you also send me an e-mail with all the details of the full funding requirments and the next assessment dates

    Thank you for your time



    1. Hi Oliver, no problem, we’ll send you an email through today.

  9. hi, ive been working offshore a year now and am interested in the diving side, i have only done basic diving before could you please send me details on courses and funding/costing?

    many thanks

    1. Hi Stuart, no problem, one of our Student Advisors will be in touch with some more information.

  10. Would love to do it but can’t afford any discount for a Middlesbrough postcode?

    1. Hello Lee,
      At the moment funding is hard to secure. The SDS funding in Scotland was a Pilot scheme and we are not sure if this will be on going or if it will include the rest of the UK in the future.
      I would recommend that you contact your local government enterprise company or chamber of commerce in your area to see if they can help or point you in the right direction of possible funders.
      Start looking into it now as the new financial year will begin next week so this is when the money will be available if there is any.
      Good luck


  11. Ingrid, with reference to funding, can I use my ELC for a HSE commercial scuba course?

    1. Good morning Marc,

      Unfortunately the HSE Scuba course is not on the MOD list of approved ELCAS courses. If you were to attend the full package (any of the 3 on offer) then you can use the credits as it is the Wet Bell Top-up section that is classed as level 3 or higher. You can also use the ELCAS credits for the CSWIP NDT prep course, DMT course (full 2 week course only, not Refresher) and both of the ROV courses on offer.

      Best Regards,

      Ingrid Vickers
      Student Advisor

      T. +44 1397 707 106 F. +44 1397 704 969

  12. Hi, I’ve completed my Advanced Open Water PADI certificate and want to get into commercial diving. I’m 27 and was wandering if there would be funding available for people like myself?


    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately there is not much funding available right now; you could apply for a Career Development Loan through Barclays or Co-op Bank. These loans allow you to borrow up to £10,000 to pay for your course then repayments would start once your training is completed. The contact number for an application pack is 0800 585 505 and our provider number is 11798.

      If you would like anymore information about this or our courses, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on

      Kind Regards
      Lorna MacPherson

      Student Advisor
      The Underwater Centre, Fort William
      T. +44 1397 707 102 F. +44 1397 704 969

  13. i have a scottish post code and currently unemployed would the course cost me anything and if so is there funding available

    1. Hi Philip

      The SDS funding has now all been allocated to candidates and so there are no further places are available; the full course costs would be payable to attend any of our diving career packages. I have e-mailed you the full course information with details with regards to course costs and dates. If any additional funding does becomes available again in the future then we will certainly be in touch or put details on our Facebook page

      If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

      Kind Regards

      Lorna MacPherson, Student Advisor
      The Underwater Centre, Fort William
      T. +44 1397 707 102 F. +44 1397 704 969

  14. Hi i have just left the royal navy as a submariner and i am really interested for a career in commercial diving. I was wondering if your dive school was part of the enhanced learning credits scheme as i have got funding to use from that. It would not cover the full cost of your course so i was wondering if there would be an option to use my credits and also put funding forward from myself to make up for the rest. looking forward to hearing from you.

    1. Hi William,

      We are indeed registered with ELCAS; our Provider Number is 1593 and anyone looking to join a commercial course package – Standard, Construction or Premium – can use their ELCAS funding towards this training. The balance can then be paid by yourself or, a lot of students apply for a Career Development Loan which allows you to borrow upto £10,000 through Barclays or Co-op and start repayment on completion of the course. If you would like further details on this, our CDL Provider number is 11798 and the CDL number to call is 0800 585505.

      If you would like further details of what’s included in the course, or require more information about the funding, please don’t hesitate to email me directly and I will send you on the information.

      Kind regards
      Lorna MacPherson, Student Advisor
      The Underwater Centre, Fort William

  15. I am very interested in training at the centre having heard from a friend who completed the premium package via the Energy Skills Challenge Fund.

    Is this still available as an option or is there anything similar?

    Many Thanks.

    1. Hi Joseph,

      The Skills Development Scotland funding which we received has now run out I’m afraid. It did prove to be extremely successful, so we are hopeful there will be more funding available in the future, but there are no specific plans as yet.

      Have you considered a Career Development Loan – a lot of our students use one to pay for their course. You can find out more details here; our provider number is 11798.

      I will arrange for one of my colleague to send on full course information to you, and if you need any more information or have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      All the best

      Olivia Gemmill, Student Advisor
      The Underwater Centre, Fort William

  16. Hi there,

    I have decided I would like a career change and would love to work as a Subsea Engineer. Is the premium package a good starter course for this? and regarding the funding how much would it cost me? I have a Scottish postcode. Write back soon. Thanks! Kindest Regards

    1. Hi Andrew,

      The Premium course is ideal, especially if you’ve never done any welding or construction work, as it gives a good grounding in the basics to get you started in your new career. The Skills Development Scotland funding is now closed I’m afraid, however have a look at our Funding page online to see if there is anything else that may be helpful. If you’re based in Scotland, I would recommend attending one of our Introduction to Commercial Diving Days, as this will give you a great opportunity to learn more about the career, and get a taste of working underwater. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly on or call me on 01397 703 786.

      Maggie MacKinnon
      Student Advisor
      The Underwater Centre, Fort William & Tasmania

  17. could you e-mail me the full course information with details with regards to course costs and dates and information on any funding available. Thanks

    1. Hi Becca, no problem. One of our Student Advisors will get in touch directly.

  18. Hi, would someone be able to send me some information about this.

    1. Hi Colin,

      Unfortunately the funding which was available previously, has now all been used. We will certainly communicate widely if any other funding does become available in the future.

      In the meantime, I’ve asked one of my colleagues to forward you on full course information, and if you’ve any other questions regarding the training we provide or careers as commercial diver, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly

      Kind regards

      Olivia Gemmill, Student Advisor
      The Underwater Centre, Fort William

  19. Hi,

    Great information on this page and comments, thank you! I’m assisting my husband who is already a Commercial Diver, and has three years of experience, with in-land diving, ship husbandry and other miscellaneous work. He’s looking to further his education/certifications currently and can’t find a school in the US that offers what you do.

    What funding options are available for American’s? He meets all the qualifications needed for the courses he’s interested in. The main hold back is finding funding…. Any suggestions? We’ve never gone to school overseas before and not sure where to start.

    Is there a time or a way we could chat with an adviser over the phone as well?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Jen,

      Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately there is no funding currently available in the UK, nor have we heard of anything available in America. You can give me a call on 0044 1397 707102, 9am to 5pm UK-time, Monday to Friday. I can then send you out full information on what is covered on the specific courses your husband is interested in.

      I look forward to hearing from you,

      Lorna MacPherson, Student Advisor
      The Underwater Centre, Fort William

  20. Hi there,

    could you possible send me an email on eligbility and more information about fitness requirments for the rigorous assessment procedure?

    thanks hope to hear back soon,
    Joe McLaughlan

    1. Hi Joe, the funding has actually been completed, hoever if there is more awarded we’ll certainly notify you. I’ll send you an email with information about the HSE diving medical, which is needed to train and work as a commercial diver.
      Many thanks,
      Lorna MacPherson
      Student Advisor

  21. hi my name is chris I am 25 years of age and live in the uk I am interested in becoming a commercial diver but have zero experience of diving is this ok? and if so… could you be able to send me any info on funding help as I would be looking to start the course early next year 2015


    chris yeoman

    1. Hi Chris,
      To become a Commercial diver the only pre-requisite required is an HSE diving medical, I’ll email a list of approved HSE doctors to you. At the moment I’m afraid there is no government funding available, but I can also send you information on career development loans.
      Maggie MacKinnon
      Student Advisor

  22. Hi am 20 years old from Inverness and very interested in doing this course but needing help with funding can you email me some information??

    Thanks Jordan.

    1. Hi Jordan,

      There’s no funding available at the moment for the courses; however you could look into a career development loan – contact number 0800 585505 our Provider Number is 11798 – which allows you to borrow up to £10,000. You don’t need to start repaying until after you’ve completed your course.

      If any further funding does become available, we’ll put a notification on our Facebook page. In the meantime, I’ve sent on full course details to you, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any queries.


      Lorna MacPherson, Student Advisor
      The Underwater Centre, Fort William

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