A Highland education centre preparing students for careers in the energy industry has strengthened its fabrication training with a new appointment. Nigg Skills Academy has welcomed Mike Dunn to head up its team of fabrication instructors, bringing him back to the academy for the first time since 2012, when he was one of its inaugural graduates.
Mike Dunn, who has just achieved his Assessor Award qualification, says: “It’s been amazing coming back to the academy after all these years. Having experienced the workshops, lessons and teaching firsthand, it gives me a unique insight into what the students are thinking and feeling; allowing me to help them to the best of my ability.”
Ali Kennedy, Operations Director at Nigg Skills Academy, adds: “It’s fantastic to see Mike back at Nigg Skills Academy a decade after he graduated from our pilot programme, and bringing his real world experience to the training workshop.
“Mike is instrumental in delivering our 16-week course in welding and fabrication, allowing students to gain SVQ2 and NC qualifications that set them up for apprenticeships and work beyond.”
As well as practical hands-on lessons, students are also trained extensively in governance, legal paperwork, and health and safety – giving them a rounded view of the industry and the roles in it. The 16-week course fast tracks trainees on the path to an apprenticeship, gaining qualifications that take a year to gain in part-time learning environments.
Originally working in the Post Office for 10 years, Mike Dunn decided he needed a new challenge. That was when he discovered Nigg Skills Academy’s pilot scheme, and that the training was open to anyone.
He explains: “There’s no age limit to learn at Nigg Skills Academy. From school leavers in their teens to folk in their late 50s looking for a career change, there are opportunities for everyone.
“I found working in the Post Office mundane. I needed a new challenge and grasped the opportunity to study in Nigg Skills Academy’s first ever course with both hands.
“Joining the academy as a student was a completely new experience for me. There was a lot to learn about the fabrication and welding world in a short period of time, but the course structure really helped me pick up the skills quickly.”
Following on to an apprenticeship and beyond, Mike had a successful career in the energy industry as a rope access technician, in rig repair, and in fabrication workshops. However, during the 2015 downturn he decided to take a career break to pursue other interests. A break that led him back to Nigg Skills Academy.
“I took a couple of years out of the fabrication industry to follow a different path, working in social work and housing support,” says Mike Dunn. “I found that I was good at helping and teaching people, and that it was something I really enjoyed.
“While it was only a couple of years, I gained a huge amount of experience, and it goes hand in hand with my new role at the academy. It allows me to bring my interests together. I’ve come full circle with the academy, from student to instructor, and I feel like I’ve finally found my calling.”
Nigg Skills Academy is an independent, not-for-profit training centre based at Port of Nigg in the Scottish Highlands. At the heart of innovation in the Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, the academy is a centre for welding, fabrication and engineering training excellence. The team also offers an extensive range of NPORS qualifications and certifications.