The start-up aiming to wire up Europe’s longest subsea cable-link as part of a £16 billion venture to import Moroccan sun and wind power to Britain is setting up its training hub for tomorrow’s skilled tradespeople.

Cable maker XLCC has signed papers to turn EdF’s defunct, decommissioned former nuclear plant at Hunterston, on the Ayrshire coast, into Europe’s biggest fabrication spot for high value, long distance DC cables, or ‘interconnectors’ as the jargon calls them.

Demand is booming worldwide in the cables business.  XLCC reckons its revamped factory will need up to 900 top-skilled staff.  Now it is setting up a centre to train them.

The manufacturer has signed a lease on premises in Irvine, north Ayrshire, to house a dedicated hub for passing tech savvy to the next generation.  Primed with its first students – pictured, the training hub will be in full swing by June.

Underpinning XLCC’s ambitions is its relationship to Essex-based Xlinks, the giga-project using £16 Billion from investors including Octopus Energy and its boss Greg Jackson among others, to port current from southern Morocco’s solar & wind farms via four 3,000 kilometre DC links under the Atlantic littoral, linking with Britain’s National Grid on landfall in north Devon.

Xlinks announced last month that industry alumnus James Humfrey is to be its new CEO.

XLCC’s lease on its 12,500 sq ft training site in Irvine was secured with the support of Scottish Enterprise, which provided a £200,000 grant towards its fit-out. The new centre will be XLCC’s main training hub for its cable jointer apprentices and workers in the Hunterston factory.

The specialist firm says the training centre’s location offers chances to develop relationships with employers in Scotland’s industrial south-west. These, says XLCC, can benefit to become the foundation of its preferred suppliers when the Hunterston factory reaches peak output later this decade.

The first cohort of the cable-maker’s skilled tradesfolk for tomorrow began their courses in October. Apprentices are working toward NC, HNC or HND in Electrical Engineering accreditations, depending on previous qualifications, and on day release. The course has been designed in partnership with Ayrshire College.

Recent board level appointments at XLCC include engineering leader Vegar Syrtveit Larsen’s arrival as its chief technology officer.

Company operations director Alan Mathers said: “The Irvine facility gives us a platform to deliver a very high standard of training for our apprentices, with a focus on cable jointing.

“We are proud to be playing a central role in stimulating economic growth in north Ayrshire and making a positive difference to community life.”

Adrian Gillespie, CEO of Scottish Enterprise, said: “We continue to work closely with XLCC as it seeks to address the growing global demand for HVDC subsea cables, themselves crucial for the energy transition. The establishment of this new Training Centre is an important milestone as the company seeks to deliver its ambitious plans for Scotland, by helping to ensure it has the highly skilled workforce it needs now and in the future.

“This transformational project also provides significant economic opportunities for the local supply chain in Ayrshire and beyond.”

Frank Mitchell, chair of Skills Development Scotland, said: “Ayrshire has a long and proud history of passing on skills through apprenticeships. In investing in these fantastic new facilities, XLCC are offering future generations of local talent a direct route into high-quality enduring careers. This project demonstrates the value that forward-thinking employers place on apprenticeship pathways, generating the skills needed to deliver a Zero Carbon future”.


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