Investment of up to £200m to support hundreds of jobs in the rural economy was welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today.
She visited Ross-Shire Engineering in Muir of Ord, who announced they will use the funding to create new jobs and secure existing positions.
The company has secured potential funding of up to £200m across the next five years from Scottish Water’s Capital and Operational Delivery framework projects to supply equipment to ensure high quality drinking water in many parts of Scotland.
This investment has already resulted in over 100 new jobs this year alone and provided additional job security to the existing 273 staff. The company has also expanded its apprenticeship programme, and will more than double the number of vacancies for apprentices and graduates over the next five years.
The announcement came as the First Minister made a series of visits in the Highlands to see how innovation and investment is strengthening Scotland’s rural economy.
She also visited Nigg Energy Park to unveil the first turbine built for the world’s largest-planned wave energy park.
The First Minister said: “Ensuring a strong rural economy is crucial to Scotland’s success.
“This funding Ross-Shire Engineering has secured provides a hugely welcome boost in providing skilled jobs and investment across the Highlands, as well as providing vital utility services to Scotland’s homes and businesses.
“In particular, I am delighted they will be investing in their already strong apprenticeship job programme, providing vital training and employment to young people living in the Highlands in a competitive jobs market.
“Last week when I set out my Programme for Government I promised to protect Scotland’s interests, particularly our economic interests, in the wake of the EU referendum.
“Driving sustainable economic growth is at the heart of that, and I am committed to ensuring this Government does all it can to ensure Scotland’s rural economy remains prosperous for future generations.”
On her visit to Nigg Energy Park to unveil the world’s first ever large-scale tidal stream farm, the First Minister said:
“I am incredibly proud of Scotland’s role in leading the way in tackling climate change and investment in marine renewables is a hugely important part of this.
“MeyGen is set to invigorate the marine renewables industry in Scotland and provide vital jobs for a skilled workforce, retaining valuable offshore expertise here in Scotland that would otherwise be lost overseas. Highly skilled operation and maintenance jobs will also need to be carried out locally, providing strong local employment opportunity for rural areas.
“There is no doubt that the eyes of the world are on this project which is why the Scottish Government’s investment is so crucially important.
“But it is also absolutely vital that the UK Government sticks to its word in honouring the commitment they made to their subsidy programme and tackle the current uncertainty that exists before they cause irreparable damage to the long term prospects for the sector.”
Global Energy Group Chairman Roy MacGregor, who is the major shareholder of the company, said:
“We are delighted the First Minister has taken the time to visit Ross shire Engineering today.
“Their growth and great progress is down to the innovation and hard work of their workforce.
“Establishing new Framework Agreements with Scottish Water further emphasises their ability in developing new technology to meet the increasing demands and standards within this industry.
“With the continuing dedication and hard work of the Ross shire Engineering workforce, I feel the company will grow even further and in doing so, create further quality jobs, apprenticeship and graduate opportunities for people in the Highlands.”
Douglas Millican, Chief Executive of Scottish Water said: "I am delighted that the work we have given Ross-shire Engineering has enabled them to create these jobs and apprenticeships.
"Although our priority is to provide clear, fresh water to our customers and safely return waste water to the environment we also seek to support Scottish companies and Scottish jobs whenever we can. The success of Ross-shire engineering is a great example of the role Scottish Water and its partners can play in supporting Scotland's economic growth".
Source: Scottish Government