Highland salmon and trout processing company Aquascot has become the latest to pledge to support an initiative aimed at welcoming young people to the world of work.
The Alness-based Aquascot – which supplies high quality seafood to retailer Waitrose – has signed up to Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highland (DYWICH), affirming its commitment to providing employment and training for young people in the region.
Aquascot employs over 200 staff in the Highlands and is a Real Living Wage employer.
Joanne Brogan, HR advisor at Aquascot, said: “Signing the Young Person’s Guarantee with DYWICH has validated the work we carried out in 2021 and early 2022 to engage young people with our company and our industry as a whole – and gives us focus to continue that work.
“It is important that we support the next generation of workers and future leaders, as they are key to our future economic success – providing a new perspective, and helping companies with resource shortages and skills gaps.”
In 2021, Aquascot recruited two undergraduate interns through Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Saltire Scholars scheme. Each completing a 10-week project, one focused on reduction of single-use plastics while the other carried out vital data analysis work.
“We have also had great success with the Government Kickstart programme, creating roles for three young people who were at risk of unemployment,” said Brogan.
“As well as providing training in a range of skills that are transferable to a wide variety of food production roles – and other industries – we were able to secure permanent employment for one Kickstart participant as a junior food technologist.
“We are passionate about nurturing homegrown engineering talent through our modern apprenticeship programme, too. With our former apprentice having just finished his four-year appointment, a new apprentice has now started his career journey with us.”
The firm has also recently adapted the role of production operative, opening up new career paths for young people in the region that are flexible to fit around their existing commitments. Through initiatives like these – and engagement with local schools – the firm hopes to encourage young people in the Highlands to stay in the area when looking for employment.
Eilidh Edgar, programme manager at DYWICH, said: “It is only natural for young people to consider moving away from home when looking for their first job – however it is vitally important for our local economy and community that we showcase the incredible variety of opportunities that are available on our doorstep, too.
“We are thrilled that Aquascot has signed the Young Person’s Guarantee, building on incredible foundations of supporting young people into employment after school.
“Whether choosing to go on to further education, an apprenticeship, or into an entry-level position in their chosen field, it’s the work of companies like Aquascot that lets young people in the Highlands know about all the amazing careers and training available to them locally.”
Brogan added: “It can be difficult for a young person to secure high quality employment without experience, and they may not realise their potential at a young age. It is therefore vital for employers to engage with young people and provide opportunities for them to develop transferable skills and build their experience, with good management that coaches and encourages young people to achieve their potential to build a successful career.
“Aquascot aims to be the employer of choice for young people. The work we do internally to develop a continuous learning and development culture, and the work we do externally in the community to showcase our company as a values driven organisation with career development opportunities, is our pathway to achieving this.”
Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highland is part of a national framework of regional employer-led boards across Scotland. Formed as part of the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy, and hosted by Inverness Chamber of Commerce, the group’s aim is to develop sustainable links between schools, colleges and employers. Working in partnership with employers, DYWICH is shaping the workforce of the future and helping to better prepare young people for the world of work.