25,000 apprenticeships have us powering ahead

By Joan McAlpine on Mar 27, 12 08:00 AM in

THERE are 25,000 reasons to be optimistic about Scotland’s future. That’s the number of modern apprenticeships started this year.

And the great thing about modern apprenticeships in Scotland – unlike down south – is that every single one is linked to a real job.

With youth unemployment at unacceptable levels and London policies hammering the economy, we need to do everything we can to give the next generation the best start.

That means using the resources and talent we have so much of.

Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s tidal energy and the same amount of offshore wind. That’s a lot of clean power – much more than we need.

Scotland can export this electricity to England and Europe and ensure an income stream for decades to come.

That’s on top of a staggering £1trillion worth of oil and gas left in the North Sea, enough to last another 40 years or more.

But, of course, it’s the human face of these figures that’s most important.


We got a glimpse of tomorrow, last week at Nigg.

The site has one of the world’s largest drydocks.

It boomed in the early days of North Sea oil. Now it rises again thanks to its new owners, Global Energy.

This weekend, as the Tories gathered in Troon for two days of attacks on Scotland’s SNP government – Alex Salmond was in Nigg launching a skills academy, established with more than £900,000 of public money.

The academy will start 290 modern apprenticeships in its first year.

By 2015 it will have trained 3000 people, including engineers, operators, riggers, technicians and all the skills needed in the energy sector.

It came as another renewables giant, Gamesa, chose the Port of Leith as the preferred location for their manufacture of offshore wind turbines.

That represents a £150million investment in Scotland.

But it’s just a small slice of what’s going on.

The SNP want every council to have a skills academy like the one in Nigg.

Soon we will have a modern apprenticeship for wind turbine technicians – being developed at Carnegie College in Fife.

In Glasgow, Anniesland College will launch an academy for welders and other steel trades working in renewables – backed by the Scottish Government and Steel Engineering, a Clydeside company founded in 1932.

They lived through the boom years of shipbuilding.

Now they are creating the massive underwater structures that will carry windmills the size of skyscrapers.

This is what we mean by the re-industrialisation of Scotland. And it’s happening right now.

Now if people would simply judge the SNP on it’s record overall (yes, they’ve made the odd mistake. Who hasn’t) Then what is there to fear from independence? A loyalist told me the other day that there would be civil war, citing other countries that have won their independence followed by a civil war. The simple fact is that this is the same scaremongering that unionist parties have spouted for decades. They forget one vital point. We would be winning independence democratically with the support of the people. They  will not be voting for civil war, they will be voting for the right to run our own affairs. To paraphrase Burns “may Scotland’s wrangs be righted by Scottish hands” except he was talking about British wrangs when Britain was at war with France. He was wrong then, but in 2012, it works for Scotland.