SEPA announces new initiative to tackle flood skills shortage

Posted: Wednesday 24th June 2009

Scotland's environment watchdog is launching a unique initiative with two of Scotland's universities to address the shortage of skilled scientists to meet Scotland's future flood risk management challenge.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is announcing the creation of new trainee posts this and the following two years within their flood risk science training programme. The successful candidates will work for SEPA on a part time basis whilst also studying for Masters of Science (MSc) degrees at either the University of Dundee or Stirling, SEPA's partners in this initiative. When qualified, it is anticipated that successful graduates will be offered permanent jobs in SEPA helping deliver improved flood risk management for Scotland and meeting the challenges of the forthcoming Flooding Bill.

This new approach will help establish Dundee and Stirling universities as national centres for expertise in flood risk management science. Graduates from these courses will provide future flood risk management skills, not just for SEPA, but also for other partner organisations in the front line tackling sustainable flood management.

The initiative meets one of the key recommendations in the Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs and Environment Committee's December 2008 report - namely the lack of skilled workers needed to implement the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill, due to come into force in summer 2009.

SEPA's Flood Unit Manager, David Faichney said: "To meet our future flood risk management challenges, we must ensure that we have the graduates we need with the relevant skills and knowledge. We are delighted that we have secured this agreement with both Stirling and Dundee Universities where new recruits on the SEPA Flood Risk Science Programme will study for their MSc whilst gaining invaluable work experience with SEPA.

"We hope that this initiative is the first step in establishing the next generation of hydrologists and flood risk managers for SEPA and other flood risk management partners in Scotland."

Minister for the Environment, Ms Roseanna Cunningham, said: "It is vitally important to have sufficient numbers of specialist staff to support the implementation of the Bill and deliver the much needed improvements to how we manage flood risk across Scotland.

"This initiative provides an excellent opportunity for the next generation of hydrologists to hone and study their skills and to ensure Scotland has the expertise needed to protect vulnerable homes and businesses from the threat of flooding."

Professor Alan Werritty, University of Dundee, commented: "This an exciting opportunity to educate and train the next generation of hydrologists and flood risk managers who will help SEPA promote better flood risk management and healthy rivers. We look forward to working alongside SEPA in converting their new recruits into skilled practitioners delivering sustainable flood risk management across Scotland."

Stirling University's Professor David Gilvear added: "The University of Stirling is delighted to be in partnership with SEPA and Dundee University in training the hydrologists and river basin managers of the future. These people will be critical in ensuring that Scotland achieves sustainable flood management and protects its freshwater environments.

Scientific understanding of how and why rainfall soaks in to the soil and runs over the land is critical to managing flood risk. Similarly linking water quality changes to the way in which water runs in to our rivers is essential for protecting water quality. Such scientific questions as these will form the core of what the SEPA trainees study and in which they will develop excellence."

Full details of the positions available, including entry requirements, are available at Both courses are open to applications from other full time and part time students.

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