THIRTEEN senior fish farm staff from five salmon farming companies have enrolled on a new professional development programme in aquaculture management developed by the NAFC Marine Centre UHI.
The farmers, including seven from Shetland salmon farms and six from elsewhere in Scotland, are the first to enrol on NAFC’s new degree level Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management.
The programme is the first of its kind in the UK and has been developed by NAFC staff in response to demand from Scottish fish farming companies.
It will enable experienced fish farm staff to gain a qualification in senior management while working in the industry.
The flexible training programme, which will normally take about 24 months to complete, uses distance learning technology to allow candidates to study at times and places that suit them and which fit in with their work and other commitments.
Candidates can enrol on the programme at any time and are supported and assessed by NAFC staff throughout their training.
On successful completion of the programme they will receive a Scottish Vocational Qualification at Level 4 from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), which is equivalent to an Ordinary Degree (SCQF Level 9), as well as a Lantra Technical Apprenticeship Certificate funded by Skills Development Scotland.
Course leader Stuart Fitzsimmons said: ‘Following the successful introduction of our Modern Apprenticeships in Aquaculture for new and experienced fish farm staff, we had a lot of interest from aquaculture companies in a training programme for their managers.
‘The Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management has been designed to meet that need and to provide a progression opportunity for staff who have completed the Modern Apprenticeships.
‘It will allow senior aquaculture staff to gain a management qualification while working in the industry, and building on their existing knowledge, experience and skills.
‘The use of distance learning, supported by NAFC staff, means that people from anywhere in Scotland can undertake this training at times and places that suit them, without having to attend college classes.’
The NAFC Marine Centre currently has more than 50 aquaculture staff from throughout Scotland enrolled on its Modern Apprenticeships in Aquaculture at Level 2 or Level 3, with more than 150 having already completed one of these programmes.
The centre received a glowing review of its existing aquaculture training programme earlier this summer, said Fitzsimmons, following an audit by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
The NAFC Marine Centre is also launching two new short training courses for the aquaculture industry: Capstan Winch Safety Awareness; and Jet Washing Safety Awareness.
These courses have again been developed in response to industry demand and complement the centre’s existing suite of short courses covering different aspects of aquaculture operations.
NAFC’s academic quality manager Duncan Kidson said: ‘The launch of the Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management and the new short courses demonstrate NAFC’s ability and willingness to respond to the training needs of the Scottish aquaculture industry and to deliver that training in a flexible manner to meet the needs of the people working in the industry.
‘NAFC will continue to work closely with the aquaculture industry and to develop flexible distance learning courses to meet their training requirements.’