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RAF Kinloss & Skills Development Scotland – reducing the regional impact of a major site closure

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Responding to the dramatic decision to close the Nimrod airbase at Kinloss, Windmills, in partnership with Skills Development Scotland (SDS), helped hundreds of employees and their families to create a new route for their future, by exploring the Windmills 3-Thinking approach (click here to find out more)


Faced with the Defence Secretary’s decision to close the RAF airbase at Kinloss, staff at all levels were trying to tackle complex decisions affecting themselves, their families and their communities.  In turn, the fabric of the local area faced uncertainty by not only a loss of economic activity but also potential loss of invaluable family members who have worked and volunteered for years in the third sector across the neighbouring community of schools, public services, charities and local businesses.
Skills Development Scotland, the national skills body supporting the people and businesses of Scotland were also concerned at what they could do to safeguard skill levels in the local community and to provide opportunities within the local community for young people to aspire. From pervious collaborations with SDS in Scotland such as Dounreay and Chapelcross Nuclear Power stations, NHS Scotland, and I-Hero an SDS initiative aimed at building aspirations in young people, Windmills was approached to support this new project.


Delivering a capacity building train-the-trainer(Click here to find out more) programme Windmills equipped a team of SDS careers advisors and volunteers across the airbase including union members, instructors and specialist defence staff with tools and techniques (click here to see the Windmills Portfolio) to enable colleagues to take control of their future.

Utilising the No Regrets Programme (click here to take a look at the No Regrets Resources) as a practical resource, this cascade model enabled champions to deliver a range of 1:1 and group based sessions over an 18 month transformational programme.


Feedback from a cohort of employees highlights its impact, demonstrated in the chart below.   All employees were asked the same questions before and after the programme and scored their answers from 1 = poor to 5 = outstanding.

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Comments included:

“The programme’s value lies in the positive stimulation it provides in the company of other people in the same situation”.

“It’s given me the confidence to pursue what I really want to do, and that is running a local children’s nursery”.

“It’s helped our whole family to make a collective decision on our future, a decision based on what matters to each of us”.

“Insightful, enlightening and wonderful programme which has helped me to gain a greater sense of control”.


Rather than simply moving off to the next career opportunity at a different airbase, many participants, as a result of family discussions following the programme, have made informed life decisions to blend their working, learning, playing and giving (click here to find out more about WLPG) locally. 

By creating the space to build their own personalised plans with their families individuals have created a range of opportunities to secure sometimes new and sometimes similar roles….
Some moved into similar roles in the oil and gas industry
Some re-focused their skills to create their own community social enterprises
Some linked their coaching skills with a passion for transport to become a driving instructor as well as becoming a leader in local economic development.

Rather than simply moving off to the next career opportunity at a different airbase, many participants, as a result of fami