School pupils in Lochgilphead have learned more about the huge range of local jobs in the Scottish salmon sector as part of a new initiative to develop the talent of the future.

A day-long event at Lochgilphead Joint Campus offered pupils the opportunity to meet those working in aquaculture, find out more about farm-raised salmon, and discover the career options open to them.

Scottish salmon directly supports 500 jobs in Argyll and Bute, with many more in the supply chain, generating tens of millions of pounds for the local economy.

Recent opinion polling found widespread support for the sector and among those who support salmon farming in the area, 87 per cent said it was because farms provide jobs for local people.

The careers event in Lochgilphead included an introduction to farm-raised Scottish salmon, technology exhibitions, a powerboat tour and the chance to eat nutritious salmon burgers.

It is hoped that similar events will now be staged across rural Scotland.

The day was timed to coincide with the United Nations’ World Oceans Day 2022.

Aquaculture has been highlighted by the UN as being the solution to some of the problems the world faces, and 2022 has been designated the UN International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, recognising the role the sector plays in producing nutritious food while preserving wild fish stocks and oceans.

The careers event was organised by Salmon Scotland, their member companies and the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), in partnership with Developing the Young Workforce Argyll – part of the Scottish Government's Youth Employment strategy to better prepare young people for the world of work.

Local employers also took part, including The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC), Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms (SSF), Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, MSD Animal Health Aquaculture and AKVA group.

The event is part of the #BeTheNewWave campaign to encourage more young people to start a career in aquaculture, highlighting the range of well-paid and high-skilled job opportunities from technicians to farm assistants, from skippers to processors, and from fish husbandry to business support roles.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said:

“Scottish salmon is responsible for creating thousands of high-paid, skilled and rewarding local jobs here in Argyll and Bute and right across the country. We want to help the next generation of young people in Lochgilphead with their futures and talk to them about careers in salmon farming.

“The farm-raised salmon sector is at the heart of Scotland’s coastal communities. In many places the salmon farm at the end of the road keeps the local community alive, the school open, and helps support many local businesses.

“There are a huge number of different roles in aquaculture and we need young people, especially females, to join us in looking after our world-leading salmon as we feed not only Scotland but the wider world.”

Heather Jones, chief executive of the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), said:

“SAIC is proud to support this event, which will introduce hundreds of school pupils to the many varied and rewarding opportunities in aquaculture.

“The sector is on their doorsteps, and we hope that it inspires the students to seriously consider aquaculture as an exciting career destination.

“These pupils could become the innovators of the future, helping to produce sustainable and healthy protein that will feed the world’s growing population and support Scotland’s economy.”

Scott McKinnon, Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) cluster lead for Helensburgh and Lochgilphead, said:

"DYW Argyll is delighted to be involved in the aquaculture careers day at Lochgilphead Joint Campus.

“Marrying up local labour market opportunities to our in-school activities is key to ensuring our community has the skilled workforce it needs to thrive in the future.

“I'd like to thank the aquaculture employers for recognising this and I am confident our young people will get a lot from the day."

Ann Devine, principal of Lochgilphead Joint Campus, said:

“The aquaculture event signifies another development in the strong partnership established between Lochgilphead High School and the Scottish salmon farming sector.

“The pupils will come away from the day having learned, engaged and had fun – but for some it could be the first stage in choosing a future career and for that we are indebted to local salmon farmers and supply chain companies for their ongoing support.”

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