Just the job for rural communities: two members of the team from the Wyre and Eday farms on Orkney. Photo: SSF

Investment in training nets platinum award for SSF

Sustained investment in jobs and skills has helped earn Scottish Sea Farms an Investors in People (IIP) Platinum accreditation, the highest possible IIP status.

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Investment pays dividends

The company’s investment in its workforce has resulted in:

  • 3,755 training days in the last 12 months
  • Staff retention reaching a record high of more than 92%
  • Absenteeism falling to an all-time low at 1.5%
  • Awards including Aquaculture Learner of the Year, Finfish Farm Manager of the Year and Rising Star in the first half of 2018 alone.

SSF has also retained its Investors in Young People Good Practice Award at Gold level and has been accredited with the IIP Health and Wellbeing Good Practice Award, making it only the seventh company in Scotland and the first salmon farmer in the UK to achieve all three accolades.

The Investors in People assessor who wrote a review of the company concluded: “Your principles, which are your values, run very deep and I was struck by how everyone I interviewed talked about the principles being so important to them, how they live by these values and that they are at the heart of everything they do in their daily work.” 

Keeping communities alive

In a press release, SSF said a key driver behind the company’s investment has been to help the remote communities in which it farms retain their younger generations and encourage those that had left to study or work to return home.

To achieve this, Scottish Sea Farms said it had:

  • Increased its investment in Modern Apprenticeships, with 46 apprentices – the highest level for any Scottish salmon farmer
  • Helped shape a new degree-level of Modern Apprenticeship, Level 4, in partnership with skills bodies SQA and LANTRA
  • Introduced a new company graduate programme which has since been rolled out across the sector with the help of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC)
  • Developed a bespoke course, in partnership with SAIC and Fife College, for first-time managers, helping them make the transition from farm team to farm manager successfully.

SSF said it had also introduced a “Staff Learning Journey” for every employee, mapping out a clear path of career progression, and was paying an average salary above that for both Scotland and the UK – another determining factor in whether people choose to live in remote communities.

Scottish Sea Farms’ head of human resources Tracy Bryant-Shaw said: “The vast majority of our 440-strong team live in the same communities as they work, over 200 of whom are between 17-28 years of age, so we know first-hand how important it is that skilled jobs and opportunities for career progression exist.

“By investing across these complementary areas, we’re helping to retain locals, encourage those who have previously left to return, and also attract new faces into these remote rural areas.”

Stuart Fitzsimmons: SSF has twice as many Modern Apprentices as any other fish farmer.

24-hour assistance

The new IIP Health and Wellbeing Award  recognises SSF’s introduction of a dedicated service offering access to an occupational nurse and a 24-hour employee assistance programme.

Training providers such as the NAFC Marine Centre on Shetland and Orkney, Fife and Inverness Colleges have also felt the benefits of the company’s investment, thanks to SSF’s commitment to train locally wherever possible.

Stuart Fitzsimmons, section leader for aquaculture at the NAFC Marine Centre, said: “Scottish Sea Farms work hard to ensure their staff are qualified in their area of expertise to recognised national industry standards, with more than double the number of employees currently undergoing Modern Apprenticeships than anyone else in the sector.

“The NAFC Marine Centre is proud to play a key part in this, delivering Levels 2 to 4, as well as aquaculture and maritime certificated short courses.”