Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition.
Last week was Apprenticeship Week in Scotland, which is a week to recognise and celebrate the commitment of employers and the talent of apprentices from all over the country. The Week also helps raise the profile of apprenticeships and encourage young people and local businesses to get involved. They are a vital way for young people to gain the skills they need to break into the job market and it has been good to see local businesses offering such apprenticeships to young people in the Borders.
Apprenticeship opportunities help tackle issues like youth unemployment and statistics released a few weeks ago showed that this figure in the Borders fell from February to April from 640 to 570. Although this figure is still too high and there is more that needs to be done on this issue, it’s good to see that more and more young Borderers are moving into work through opportunities like apprenticeships.
I have been meeting with the Eyemouth Renewables group for many years and a couple of weeks ago we held one of our regular meetings at the Eyemouth Harbour Trust. I was pleased to hear of the progress being made by the Neart Na Gaoithe offshore wind project from Mainstream Renewable Power who won the contract to develop the site.
Before the meeting, I was able to drop into Coastal Marine Boatbuilders (CMB) to see their latest project which involves the building of a 28 metre long Wind Farm Support Vessel. As a result of this new contract, the business has also been able to push ahead with plans to build a new Factory at the Gunsgreenhill Industrial site.
The building of the new vessel and factory by Coastal Marine Boatbuilders is a great example of the developments we might see as a result of the new offshore renewable project in the Firth of Forth. Eyemouth is ideally situated to provide Operations and Maintenance support to the wind farm and local businesses like CMB can provide the expertise needed to provide such support. This is why I am working with the Eyemouth Harbour Trust and other local stakeholders to ensure we tap into the fantastic opportunities provided by the project to bring new business and jobs to the area.
Every now and again a school from the Borders visits Westminster for a tour of Parliament and to meet with me as their local MP. These trips are a great opportunity for students to learn how the UK Parliament works and how legislation moves from policy into law.
Last week, as part of these visits, pupils from Berwickshire High School came to Westminster and, after their tour of the Palace, I had a brief question and answer session with them as we waited to see the Speaker’s procession through central lobby, the traditional meeting place for MPs and their constituents. It seemed that the group enjoyed their visit, including their glimpse of some of the pomp and ceremony.
* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.