Aquaculture’s ‘new wave’ drives recruitment campaign

Valentina Romano of Dawnfresh, who features in one of the seven 'New Wave of Talent' films

A NEW initiative to recruit young people into the aquaculture industry will ‘light a fire’ and inspire the next generation to find out more about the industry, said rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing.

Speaking at the launch of ‘A New Wave of Talent’, a series of films highlighting the variety of careers in the sector, Ewing said the aim was to reach out directly to youngsters.

‘We want to get the message across to young people in Scotland that this is a great sector, industry, venture, mission, you name it, it’s all these things, to be involved in.’

He said young people don’t know about the aquaculture industry because they don’t hear the facts from the mainstream media, and the negative message becomes a little ‘pool of misery’.

The films – a joint project between SAIC (the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre), Lantra and Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) – will ‘help hugely’ in putting a positive message across.

Paraphrasing the Irish poet W.B Yeats, Ewing said the purpose of education was not to fill a bucket with facts but to light a fire, and that is what the initiative hoped to achieve.

The minister, a passionate advocate of sustainable fish farming in Scotland, defended the industry against its detractors.

‘Some people say aquaculture makes little contribution to Scotland, but that’s complete nonsense, the opposite is the case…the facts show that aquaculture is making an enormous contribution to Scotland.’

He added: ‘In places where we have fish farms, people are being sustained on the edge of Scotland; aquaculture is the industry of the periphery; there aren’t any other options in Scotland that provide a rewarding, in financial and human terms, career like aquaculture.’

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At yesterday’s launch of A New Wave of Talent, at the Engine Shed in Stirling, the seven short films were aired before an audience of industry representatives, students, high school teachers and career advisers, as well as teams from Skills Development Scotland and Developing the Young Workforce.

The videos reflected the wide range of roles in the sector, from farm site positions to cutting edge research, and the campaign is targeted largely at the under 30s, including school leavers, university students, and graduates.

In a panel discussion at the event, the HR directors of the Scottish Salmon Company and Scottish Sea Farms, Debra Nichol Storie and Tracy Bryant-Shaw respectively, along with Mowi’s learning and development manager, Donald Waring, Dawnfresh farming director Alison Hutchins, and Institute of Aquaculture scientist Sophie Fridman, addressed recruitment challenges in remote areas.

The panel agreed that persuading youngsters that aquaculture is a viable career is one of the major tasks in any recruitment drive.

Hutchins said: ‘We get quite a lot of people coming in at an entry level just looking for a job; I would love to see more young people coming in looking for a career in aquaculture.’

The films feature: Kurk Jones, Mowi farm manager; Ivana Russo, BioMar assistant feed formulator; Andrew Richardson, masters student on the SAMS ACES programme; Valentina Romano, assistant farm manager at Dawnfresh; Janis Brivkalns, marine operative at the Scottish Salmon Company; Darren Fleming, maintenance supervisor at BioMar; and Dr Marie Smedley, breeding programme manager at Xelect.

All the films can be viewed on SAIC’s You Tube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdo3ykvyVbNtCCW3VmDy4Ug

The films have also been created in a social media friendly version which will be put on the SAIC and Lantra Instagram pages, and the campaign will be promoted via the hashtag #bethenewwave.

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