New careers beckon for Girvan’s wind turbine technicians

Josh Russell
Josh Russell
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The first students on Ayrshire College’s pioneering Wind Turbine Technician course are reaching the end of their studies and looking forward to an exciting future in the industry.

Seventeen year-old Josh Russell, Jack Oliver, 22, and Andrew Warner, 29, from Girvan are finishing the course this spring with one of the trio already having found employment.

Developed in response to the growing number of wind turbines in Ayrshire, the Wind Turbine Technician Diploma was created to train the future maintenance workforce. In parallel with this, Energy Skills Scotland was looking to add impetus to the development of a new learning hub in South West Scotland to complement two existing sites in the North and East of Scotland.

Scottish Power Renewables, which is the main industry partner of the project, together with Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Ailsa Horizons, The Energy Agency, Vattenfall, Scottish & Southern Energy, Dumfries & Galloway council and the three Ayrshire councils participated in a partnership forum hosted by Ayrshire College.

With the support of partners, the College introduced the Wind Turbine Technician Diploma, becoming the third Scottish hub offering this course. Funding was secured from the Scottish Government through ‘Skills for Growth’ and Energy Skills Scotland, NSAP, South Ayrshire Council, Carrick Futures, Scottish Power Renewables and EU Skills to run the programme. After a rigorous selection process, the course began in March with twelve students covering a wide range of ages and previous educational and employment backgrounds.

Wind Turbine Technician Diploma student Josh Russell said “The lecturers at Ayrshire College have been brilliant. In areas like hydraulics, health and safety, and systems I am definitely improving. The College is keeping us up to date with the latest developments in the industry, such as the Direct Drive Systems, which operate without gearboxes to improve reliability.

“This gives me great confidence for the future. I have thoroughly enjoyed this course, and I am looking forward to taking part in two job interviews with both B9 Energy and Scottish Power, to use the knowledge, skills and experiences I’ve gained from this course and apply them to the world of work.”

Former electrical engineer Jack Oliver said “Coming from a background in electrical engineering gave me the confidence to develop these skills on the course, whilst learning about new technologies like hydraulics, the machinery behind the turbines and working at heights. I’m excited about the future and looking forward to having the opportunity to be a part of the industry. This is all down to Ayrshire College and I can’t thank them enough.”

Successful candidates are guaranteed two job interviews with companies working within the sector. One student, Andrew Warner, has already gained employment with B9 Energy, and the College is enabling Andrew to complete the course and gain his qualifications through distance learning.

Ayrshire College plans to expand on the success of the wind turbine programme with an additional programme next year. Green technology is an area of rapid growth and the College is keen to ensure that students benefit from the new career opportunities in this sector as well as from the wind power programme. The College also plans to expand training in micro renewables as well as introducing training in hybrid vehicles.

Jim Bennett, Curriculum Manager for Brickwork, Plumbing, Gas, Electrical and Construction Technology said “The new wind turbine course has been an amazing success thanks to collaborative work with our partners. Thanks to investment from Energy Skills Partnership and Scottish Power Renewables, we’ve been able to deliver a course that meets the specific requirements of the wind power industry. Investment has been paramount to our success and we are very grateful for the financial commitment, as well as the gift of equipment, that ensured our students were able to learn from the latest cutting edge technology.

“The commitment by College staff to keep their skills and training up to date has been another key factor in making this course a great success. The lack of skilled technicians is a major challenge for the industry and we hope that our students will help fill the skills gap and secure full time employment.”