Third of salmon farming staff under 30

A THIRD of the workforce in Scotland’s salmon farming sector are under the age of 30, according to a new report published today by the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO).
The majority work in Highlands and Islands communities, employed on farms, and in engineering, veterinary, processing, sales and marketing, and HR roles, as well as in laboratories and research.
In total, more than 700 young people between the ages of 17 and 30 work in the industry in Scotland.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the SSPO, said: ‘For the salmon farming sector, these young people are vital employees, keeping the workforce growing and embracing new ideas and new technologies. They can work their way up the career ladder to become the managers of the future.
‘Young people join salmon farming companies straight from school, after college or as graduates. For them, their work offers a well-paid, sustainable career path through on-the-job skills training, Modern Apprenticeships, National Progression Awards and graduate training.
‘The chance for young people to live and work in the rural areas they were brought up in is very important.
‘As a result, salmon farming companies often have several generations from the same family as loyal employees.
‘Salmon farming companies have become house builders and telecoms advocates, supporting local community initiatives and schools to help all their workers, especially the young, find suitable modern facilities in the remote areas where they work.’
The sector works closely with many organisations such as Lantra, Skills Development Scotland, North Atlantic Fisheries College, Inverness College, the Institute of Aquaculture and others to offer as many development opportunities as possible to young people interested in a career in aquaculture.
The SSPO report features case studies of some of the young people employed in the sector who describe their jobs and the opportunities that working in salmon farming offers them.
One of these is Lewis Bennett, 27, cleaner fish manager at Loch Duart in Sutherland, who grew up in the south east of England, where he studied aquaculture.
He joined Loch Duart in 2014, working in various positions but spearheading the cleaner fish programme.
‘I enjoy my job because it is innovative and it’s a niche area of the industry,’ he said. ‘Because I started working with them at a time when the cleaner fish were most needed, it has allowed me specialise in an area which is key for Loch Duart, but also key for the salmon farming industry.
‘Now that we are in full control of our lice numbers using wild sourced wrasse, we can look to farmed ballan wrasse and that will be a whole new challenge.
‘In this remote area, Loch Duart is the largest employer and is a stable career for 40 to 50 people. The business relies on staff from the local community and new staff coming through to develop careers and innovate the company.
‘For me the business is what keeps me in the community because if Loch Duart wasn’t in the area then I would have to move to another area of Scotland to continue my career.’
Read the full report at http://scottishsalmon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Young-people-in-salmon-farming-2018.pdf
Picture: Lewis Bennett of Loch Duart