Apprenticeship for managers welcomed

THE benefits to Scotland’s aquaculture industry of a new Modern Apprenticeship for managers were highlighted at a Scottish parliamentary reception hosted by Michael Russell MSP during Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight.
The Technical Award in Aquaculture at level 4, initially available through NAFC Marine Centre UHI, offers progression and on-the-job learning for those in higher level and managerial positions within the industry.
Speaking at the event, Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: ‘As an MSP for a west coast rural constituency as well as a former environment minister, I am well aware of the economic and social importance of aquaculture.
‘These apprenticeships will make a big impact and I am delighted to be celebrating them this evening.’
Hayley Eccles of Scottish Sea Farms (pictured) and Lisa Askham of the Scottish Salmon Company, both finalists in Lantra’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards, shared their experiences of coming to aquaculture from other jobs and then finding success through modern apprenticeship programmes.
Guests at the event included other current and former Modern Apprentices, training providers, representatives from aquaculture businesses and MSPs.
Lantra Scotland director Kevin Patrick said aquaculture businesses have recognised that apprenticeships provide an effective route for developing staff.
‘The popularity of the MA at levels 2 and 3 has grown steadily and this has led to a demand for the more advanced level 4.
‘Working in partnership with aquaculture companies and other industry stakeholders, Lantra has developed this technical apprenticeship for those looking to make the move into management or for existing managers wanting to get formal training.
‘While the number of people doing Modern Apprenticeships in aquaculture may be relatively small compared to other industries, they do make a significant contribution to our more rural areas.
‘As well as the economic benefits they bring to Scotland’s food and drink sector, local people can gain a nationally recognised qualification whilst continuing to live and work within their community.’
The chair of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), Anne MacColl, talked about the positive effects that training through Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) is having on Scottish salmon production.
‘The Scottish salmon industry has and will continue to make a significant commitment to modern apprenticeships for school leavers and for existing employees,’ she said.
‘These are exciting times and an opportunity for our industry to work in collaboration with all of the aquaculture industry, and as part of Scotland’s highly successful food and drink industry.
‘Working with Skills Development Scotland and the training providers who are key delivery partners, we’ve seen significant growth in the aquaculture MA above all others, which is a positive trend, helping to professionalise roles and facilitate career pathways.
‘Whilst there are opportunities to do much more, I am delighted to see that as an early outcome, we continue to attract new entrants to the salmon industry while providing secure careers for those already employed.’