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Additional Energy Skills Challenge Funding to Train Scotland's Next Generation of Subsea Divers

06 March 2013

Coming from a family of water-sport enthusiasts, Klaus Dohrn was perhaps always going to pursue a career on or around the sea. However, while his older brothers enjoy scuba diving, Klaus prefers to keep his feet firmly on the sea bed.

The 20-year-old from Orkney has recently started training as an air diver at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, where he is one of 42 successful applicants to be offered a place which has been funded in part by the Scottish Government.

Skills Development Scotland awarded The Underwater Centre £360,000 towards the cost of training a new generation of divers; the funding allowed those awarded a place the chance to train for half the normal price, the only criteria being that they must have a Scottish postcode.

Klaus was born in Nigeria, where his father was a general surgeon, before moving to Germany for two years.

The family moved to Orkney when Klaus was six, and he went on to attend Kirkwall Grammar School. He left two years ago to travel around Australia for nine months, working as a farm hand and in construction as a labourer before returning home.

"When I got home, I spent the summer and winter labouring with my dad and brothers who were building a two-storey extension on our house. I then heard from a friend in Fort William about The Underwater Centre and the courses it offered, so decided to apply for one of the funded courses,” said Klaus.

"I signed up for one of the assessment days and was fortunate to get a place on the Premium Construction course. I have always liked to be on the water – I have a small speed boat and I enjoy fishing, sailing and wake boarding. I also enjoy working with my hands, so this felt like the perfect career for me.”
Despite his love of the sea, however, Klaus had never dived before he started the course – he now has 15 dives under his belt.

"It is absolutely fantastic, and I know that I have made the right decision,” he said.

"I like the fact that you are, quite literally, thrown in at the deep end – it’s tough but great experience. When it comes to working in industry, they want to know that you have what it takes to handle it. The course is designed to ensure that you are ready and able to start work.”

After graduation later this year, Klaus, who also plays rugby for Orkney Rugby Club, plans to work as an air diver for a couple of years to gain experience that will allow him to undertake saturation diver training.

"It is a good idea at the start to spend some time working in-shore on fish farms, harbours, piers and dams to build up your experience and time in the water, and then go offshore,” he said.

"My long-term goal is to go into saturation diving – I like the idea of being able to travel and of course the money is also attractive – but what I really enjoy is the experience of working deep under water, as well as being able to use my hands in my work. The engineering component of the course is really interesting too.

"Because most of us are living in at the Centre, we get to know each other pretty well, and I have already made a lot of friends on the course.”