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March 11th 2022

The Scottish salmon sector already makes an extraordinary contribution to the country's economy.

With more than 2,500 jobs predominantly in remote areas of the Highlands and Islands and thousands more reliant on salmon farming throughout Scotland, we provide long-term employment and well-paid careers.

Our sector continues to grow sustainably and responsibly, and for that we need to ensure we have access to enough people with the right mix of knowledge, skills and experience - which is why our member companies are investing in employer-recognised skills and apprenticeships.

This week we're celebrating Scottish apprenticeships as part of #ScotAppWeek22, recognising the role that apprenticeships play in providing both opportunities for young people and delivering the skills that businesses need.

Aquaculture apprenticeships are an attractive career option for those interested in being part of a rapidly evolving industry and we need talented people to join us.

Companies are recruiting young people straight onto an apprenticeship through Skills Development Scotland's apprenticeship vacancy website - apprenticeships.scot - as well as upskilling their existing staff on one of three aquaculture apprenticeship levels going up to a technical apprenticeship at SCQF level 9 which is the same level of learning as a degree.

Embracing technology and innovation

The Scottish salmon sector has embraced modern technology to ensure an even more sustainable future, working towards 100 per cent renewable energy use, and collaborating on research and innovation to develop new ways to power our farms, facilities vessels and vehicles.

Novel approaches and technologies are being trialled, modelled and shared, meaning that a vast array of skills are required in the sector.

Aquaculture apprenticeships are increasingly focused on sustainability and we are engaging with Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Government - through their commission on land-based learning review - to ensure that aquaculture apprenticeship frameworks continue to meet the needs of the member companies, but also support Scotland's green recovery and provide jobs in coastal communities that support the just transition away from carbon-intensive sectors such as oil and gas towards sectors like ours that have a much smaller carbon footprint.

Our sustainability charter sets out our ambition to become the sector of choice for people looking to make a positive difference.

Scottish apprenticeships are key to this.

Our members are investing in people in a wide range of roles, and training is not restricted to school leavers either, with the sector providing a pathway to further study and career advancement.

Aquaculture is a broad sector offering multiple career pathways so companies are also providing apprenticeships in other areas such as engineering and business skills which are equally important to our sector's continuing success.

Our inspirational apprentices

Modern Apprentices spend most of their time learning in the workplace while being supported by local colleges or specialist learning providers.

This means that apprentices are continuously applying their learning while working full time.

People like Callum Duggan from Cooke Aquaculture Scotland who talks about his journey to a Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management here.

We're all incredibly proud of our salmon farm trainees, such as Scottish Sea Farms' Assistant Farm Manager Derek Ferguson, who this time last week was recognised with two prestigious awards at the Lantra Scotland Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills (ALBAS).

"During the pandemic, when we were split into two teams, there were days when we would get an hour here and there and I spent that time on the coursework," he said.

"Obviously, on the farm it's very hands-on and this was a good opportunity to learn about the other side of the business."

"A truly spectacular group of individuals"

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands Mairi Gougeon attended last week's awards and said:

"I just want to put on record what a truly spectacular group of individuals we have in the finalists and winners. I'm so proud to see the incredible work they are already doing and look forward to seeing them all continue in their careers."

In the salmon farming sector, we have a sustainable future ahead of us at the heart of Scotland's rural economy.

Join us and learn the skills to help us deliver that sustainable growth, and kickstart your long-term career with a job of the future.

Written by Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of Salmon Scotland