A major project to upgrade the A9 to full dual carriageway between Inverness and Perth will provide full-time jobs for at least 40 young civil engineers.
Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown made the announcement this afternoon as he revealed the intention was to award the last of three £40million design contracts to the Atkins and Mouchel partnership.
It will be responsible for designing a 20-mile dual carriageway stretch between Dalraddy and Inverness and will announcement workforce details shortly.
The CH2MHill/Fairhurst partnership, which won the first design contract to design a 26-mile stretch between Glengarry and Dalraddy, have mobilised a team of 110 staff.
Jacobs, which won the second contract to design the Luncarty and Pass of Birnam section, have a team of 120 people with a further 50 expected to join the project in the coming months.
The three design contracts are worth around £120million and provide full-time and placement opportunities for apprentices, work experience students and graduates.
Speaking outside Holyrood alongside some of the young engineers, Mr Brown said: “The appointment of the final design contractor for the mammoth A9 dualling project marks another significant milestone.
“The £120million we are investing in its detailed design, coupled with the start of construction on the first section to be dualled expected next summer, underlines our determination to deliver the entire 80-mile dualling programme by 2025.
“The programme is also securing jobs here in Scotland and opening up new opportunities for our young people looking to start their careers.
“A dedicated workforce based in Scotland of more than 200 are now working on the many complex strands of the A9 dualling design programme, with the team expected to expand again soon.
“This has allowed us to secure graduate, apprenticeship and students positions for nearly 40 young people to ensure they gain steady work and valuable job experience – with more of these opportunities for young people to come in the very near future.”
David Allen, a graduate civil engineer with CH2M HILL/Fairhurst, said it was great to be working on a “landmark project” so early in his career.
“My involvement in the A9 will be hugely beneficial for my professional development and as a young engineer trained and working in Scotland,” he added.
“It has provided me with a great start to my career, enabling me to work on a project of national significance.”
Craig Ritchie, a Jacobs graduate engineer, said he applied for a job because it would give him the opportunity to develop skills within a company that is focused on safety.
“I am looking forward to the challenges and opportunities provided by the project over the next few years,” he added.
Highland Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon said she was delighted so many jobs had been created.
“The project itself is vital to unlock the economic potential of the Highlands and the full-time jobs as well as the placement opportunities for apprentices, work experience students and graduates further support the local economy,” she added.
“There is a skilled workforce in the Highlands and jobs and the opportunity to work on this major scheme will be widely welcomed by many people in the north of Scotland.”