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Dawnfresh employee Valentina Romano, who is doing a Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management, is one of three aquaculture trainees in the ALBAS final. Photo: Brassock Films.
Dawnfresh employee Valentina Romano, who is doing a Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management, is one of three aquaculture trainees in the ALBAS final. Photo: Brassock Films.

Three trainees from the aquaculture industry have been short-listed for Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS (Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills).

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They are Jimmy Dakin, of Scottish Sea Farms; John MacPherson of Grieg Seafood Shetland; and Valentina Romano, of Dawnfresh Seafoods.

Dakin, 32, from Sanday, Orkney, has been doing a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) with SSF through NAFC Marine Centre UHI.

Jimmy Dakin: A passion for the sea.
Jimmy Dakin: A passion for the sea.

Clear waters

He said: “I have a passion for the sea and marine life, so it is great to live and work in Orkney.

“The island has one of the best aquaculture environments with its clear waters and strong tidal flow.

“I struggled with dyslexia and ADHD when I was at school, so achieving SVQ level 2 and 3 in aquaculture over the last two years is a monumental achievement for me.”

Learning every day

MacPherson, 23, from Portree, Isle of Skye, has been doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture with Grieg through Inverness College UHI.

He said: “I find myself learning something new every day, which is one of the things that makes working in this industry so rewarding. My Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture gave me the knowledge and guidance to get me where I am today, and the extra effort I put into the apprenticeship undoubtedly helped with my promotion.”

John MacPherson: Credits apprenticeship effort with helping him win a promotion.
John MacPherson: Credits apprenticeship effort with helping him win a promotion.

Romano, 29, from Brechin, has been doing a Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management at trout producer Dawnfresh through NAFC Marine Centre UHI.

Valuable skills

She said: “The Aquaculture Management Technical Apprenticeship at NAFC has enabled me to learn valuable skills whilst maintaining my position at work and applying this new knowledge at my site.

“The aquaculture industry is very rewarding as we work in the most stunning Scottish landscapes and our days are never the same. I love how varied my role is and all the different opportunities for growth and further development offered by my company.”

The ALBAS will be presented at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel on Thursday, March 5, 2020.

Learner of the Year

There are categories for the agriculture, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering and environmental conservation industries, as well as Higher Education, Rural Schools, Modern Apprentice of the Year, CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) and a new Partnership Working Award.

There is also a Learner of the Year Overall Winner. This goes to an outstanding trainee who has demonstrated exceptional ability, hard work and a passion for their industry.

Liz Barron-Majerik: All those nominated should be extremely proud.
Liz Barron-Majerik: All those nominated should be extremely proud.

Key role

Lantra Scotland is the sector skills council for land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries. Director Liz Barron-Majerik said: “As well as playing a key role in promoting the importance of gaining qualifications and developing skills, for trainees and employers, the ALBAS showcase the achievements of new entrants and career changers in our sector. All those nominated, whether finalists or not, should be extremely proud of this recognition.”

Agriculture and rural affairs journalist Erika Hay, chair of the independent judging panel, said: “I know I speak on behalf of all the ALBAS judges when I say we continue to be extremely impressed with the high quality of the nominees.

“We always find it really rewarding meeting them and finding out more about their inspirational stories. Getting to this stage reflects the high value we place on them as representatives of their industries.”

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