Valentina Romano, an assistant farm manager with trout producer Dawnfresh, features in the recruitment drive videos. Photo: SAIC.

Video campaign launched to net aquaculture recruits

A video-led campaign is being launched today to encourage young people in Scotland to take up careers in aquaculture.

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The total number of Scottish jobs supported by the sector is predicted to rise from 8,800 to 18,000 over the next decade, and the recruitment drive is targeted largely at under 30s including school-leavers, university students, and graduates.

It aims to showcase the variety of roles on offer in the sector, highlighting the scope and potential for a rewarding and successful career, and is led by partners from the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), rural skills organisation Lantra and Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA).

Janis Brivkalns, a marine operative at the Scottish Salmon Company, at work. Brivkalns was named Aquaculture Learner of the Year, Modern Apprentice of the Year and Overall Winner at last year's Lantra Scotland awards. Photo: SAIC.

Short films

A series of short films are at the heart of the recruitment drive, featuring a number of young people already working in aquaculture.

The videos, which can be viewed here, cover the breadth of the sector, from farm management to breeding programmes, and feature young people employed by producers such as Dawnfresh, Mowi and the Scottish Salmon Company, feed maker BioMar and genetics expert Xelect.

One of the films also focuses on post-graduate study with a student from Oban’s Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, SAIC said in a press release.

A sector skills review, published by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in 2018, identified that there were 1,539 students studying aquaculture-related courses at higher education level. However, a significant gap exists in the number of students embarking on a career in the sector, with only 38% of graduates working or undertaking further study – a figure which is not specific to aquaculture.

Mary Fraser: "Young people are an essential part of the future success and sustainability of aquaculture." Photo: SAIC.

Varied opportunities

Mary Fraser, head of skills and talent at SAIC, said: “Young people are an essential part of the future success and sustainability of aquaculture in Scotland and, as the people featured in our videos show, it can be both an exciting and rewarding career.

“The opportunities are wide and varied, ranging from working with seafood producers on fish farms, to exploring innovation and harnessing data to support new supply chain technology.

“Making decisions about careers can be a daunting prospect for school leavers and graduates, but we hope that this campaign will inspire them to turn their thoughts towards the sector and the potential career paths it can offer. With a new wave of talent, the sector can benefit from new ideas, insight and processes - ultimately helping to future-proof aquaculture in Scotland.”

Lantra director Liz Barron-Majerik said the videos “clearly demonstrate the passion and enthusiasm of those working in Scottish aquaculture; for their job, the environment and the people they work with”.

Scotland’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing was due to officially launch the campaign at an event at the Engine Shed in Stirling this morning.