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An Talla Solais in Ullapool
An Talla Solais in Ullapool

More than just bursaries

The EDF Corriemoillie Wind Farm Education & Training Fund is now in its sixth year of operation, and to date, over £270,000 of awards have been made.

Most of this funding has gone to individuals living in the fund area, which stretches across Ross-shire from Ullapool to Strathpeffer. However, an increasing number of awards are also supporting local businesses.

Individual bursaries have supported residents of all ages to improve their employment chances through training at all levels, from degree courses to driving lessons, and there's a growing amount of powerful feedback about the difference the funding has made. However, the fund can also provide support for businesses and other organisations. This fairly unique aspect has led to several interesting projects and initiatives being supported over the past few years. 

Business awards have included funding for staff training in first aid, manual handling and forest school leader courses, helping organisations retain and develop their staff and deliver important local services. An award in the most recent round went to Leckmelm Estate Partnership which received £1,108 to fund accountancy training for staff and mentoring support to grow and develop the farm business. 

"The EDF Corriemoillie fund will help my business to get training for staff to use new financial software that will help us undertake more accurate cash flow predictions and financial management. This is particularly useful as recently we have built a new affordable housing project using a derelict building at the farm.  This mentoring and training support will develop the business capacity to take forward more projects like this in the future.”


Lucy Beattie, Leckmelm Estate Partnership

The mentoring strand has helped a small number of organisations by allowing them to access very tailored support from relevant experts, again helping to grow and sustain local employment and services in the rural and often remote fund area. An Talla Solais in Ullapool was awarded £2,400 for mentoring support in the last funding round. The award will allow them to engage an experienced mentor to help staff and volunteers develop a strategic business plan for the visual arts centre to ensure it continues to employ staff and benefit the local area. 

"The funding that we are receiving from Corriemoillie Wind Farm Education and Training fund enables us to better plan and invest in our future. We’re a small charity, so funding like this makes a real difference. The mentoring will help us to decide on our future direction, and how to provide excellent access to the arts for the Ullapool community."


Mhairi Muncaster, Creative Development Manager at An Talla Solais

Finally, the fund also offers a strand which aims to help organisations to develop career aspirations and journeys. This strand has provided support for some innovative and engaging projects to date including social enterprise training for young people; practical insights to conservation and marine environment career opportunities; and hospitality training to encourage new entrants to that sector. 

In the recent round of funding, an award of £1,284 was made to Morven Personal Development under this strand to deliver confidence, employability, and wellbeing workshops to residents in the fund area.  Morven MacDonald who will develop and deliver the workshops said:

"I am so excited to have received this funding award making these in person workshops and online services accessible to all! I will offer four fully funded workshops in Ullapool for ten participants at each, covering confidence building, employability, and tools to enhance wellbeing and quality of life. These workshops will explore motivators, overcoming limitations and barriers, achieving potential, CV creation, mock interviews, connections with employers and more.


They will provide the opportunity for a significant, positive impact on self-esteem, personal and career progression and are open to anyone age 15 to 115 years! Looking forward to seeing participants leave these sessions in the early autumn with a spring in their step and walking taller! Thank you EDF Renewables Corriemoillie Wind Farm Education & Training Fund and Foundation Scotland.”

Demand for funding has consistently grown over the past five years, and the applications to the fund often exceed available funding. Facilitated by Foundation Scotland, the panel recently reviewed the awards made to date and decided to prioritise the fund’s resources going forward. The panel decided to continue to support businesses and organisations with training and development grants, as well as maintain the career aspiration strand, given the potential these awards have to really make a difference to employers, employees and the services they can deliver for local people.

Individuals will still be supported through bursary awards, with priority given to those studying and training in the key fund sectors of renewables, engineering, construction and STEMD. Training courses related to other sectors that benefit job retention in the area and enhance employability will still be eligible but funded at a lower level of award.

We look forward to getting feedback from all the above projects in the coming months and working with the panel to continue to support education and training across the area.