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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