Barony College, in partnership with The Scottish Salmon Company, is piloting a programme of work based learning that offers SSC employees access to nationally recognised fish husbandry qualifications, without them having to leave their workplace.

This initiative has been designed to transform the way that colleges support the Aquaculture industry in the future, and SSC will be the first to benefit.

Thirteen ‘learners’ from The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC), ranging in age from 21 to 59, will study for their National Progression Awards in fish husbandry without the need to travel a significant distance to complete the course. All course work will be covered on-site through the close collaboration between the college lecturers, assessors, and mentors at SSC, pioneering a new way of working between industry and education.

The pilot will run from May 7th 2012 with the aim of establishing a new work-based programme that will create more opportunities for people to train and gain qualifications in their chosen career.

The new Scottish Aquaculture Work Based Learning programme development has been funded by the Scottish Funding Council, as one of 13 Skills Utilisation projects running throughout Scotland between 2010 -2012. The initiative has been supported by the SSPO, British Trout Association, Land-based Sector Skills Council LANTRA, the SQA, the North Atlantic Fisheries College Shetland,  Inverness College, and Stirling University, during its evolution.

Martyn Haines, Chair of the Scottish Aquaculture Work Based Learning Steering group, and Depute Principal, at Dumfries-based Barony College, a specialist provider of vocational courses for the aquaculture and recreational fisheries industries. He said:

“I am delighted to see this initiative get off the ground. In this pilot, 13 people will now have the opportunity to attain recognised qualifications to enhance their careers. These qualifications can then be a stepping stone to the Aquaculture Modern Apprenticeship, and job promotions.

“It is a transformational project by design, shifting the centre for study from the classroom to the workplace, and represents a new and innovative level of collaboration between employer and college providers.

“With the SSC and our college partners, we aim to provide a high quality work based learning system, accessible by all SSC employees ultimately. Such an ambition can only succeed through effective collaboration at all levels. We thank the Scottish Salmon Company for embracing the opportunity, and for their willingness to take on a far greater support role in their employees training and education. I hope many others will follow.”

The thirteen employees from SSC taking the new course are Christopher Plomer, John Cragg, Daniel Mawhinney, Ronnie Reid, Siobhan Murray, William Flett, Alasdair Dawson, Duncan Martin, Alan Paterson, David MaCuish, Clare Preston, Alicia Arnott and Douglas MacKenzie.

Their experience ranges from those who are new to the industry through to those who have already had a long career in salmon farming. They will be studying for National Progression Awards in Fish Husbandry and Welfare and in Fish Feeding, Health and Nutrition.

Debra Nichol-Storie is the HR Director at SSC who has championed the adoption of the Scottish Aquaculture Work Based Learning system. The company employs over 350 people in the Western Isles and on the West Coast of Scotland. She said:

“Developing talent through good training and educational programmes is fundamental to our business. We have to be dynamic, encourage innovation and sustain high standards of environmental stewardship and supporting our staff through their aquaculture qualifications plays a big part.

“Working with Barony College and their partners to create an entirely work-based qualification programme has been very liberating. Their approach has been both flexible but exacting to ensure that we establish a system of learning that meets everyone’s standards and expectations.

“I wish our students the very best of luck in their studies and hope that the pilot proves to be a great success.”

The Scottish Aquaculture Work Based Learning programme offers a new high quality aquaculture programme, complimented by proactive college and company learning support. Well supported learners will build their confidence incrementally, at their own pace, leading to higher qualification rates and higher levels of retention and progression within the company. Ultimately, more opportunities for people to train and gain qualifications, and to progress  in their chosen career will be created.