NAFC's aquaculture training team. From left: Mathew Wright, Stuart Ftitzsimmons, Saro Saravanan, Duncan Kidson and Laurence Pearson. Photo: NAFC

Inspectors praise aquaculture apprenticeships

The NAFC Marine Centre UHI's apprenticeship training has been rated "very good" and its staff highly praised in an audit by Skills Development Scotland.
Author: Editors

The audit focused on the delivery of apprenticeships at NAFC, and in particular on its Aquaculture Apprenticeship Programme, and concluded that the Shetland-based institution had fully demonstrated meeting SDS’s  standards at a high level with “major strengths”. As a result NAFC was rated “very good” (SDS’s second-highest rating and one of the highest awarded).

The NAFC Marine Centre at Scalloway, Shetland. Photo: NAFC

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is the government agency that approves and regulates apprenticeships programmes in Scotland and monitors and ensures the quality of their delivery.

On-the-job training

NAFC’s Aquaculture Apprenticeship Programme has been developed to provide practical ‘on-the-job’ training and skills development for people working at all levels in the aquaculture industry. The programme has been designed in collaboration with employers to provide a progression route and career-development path from first-entry to the industry to senior management positions.

NAFC also delivers apprenticeships for fishermen, merchant seafarers (deck and engine room ratings) and shore-based engineers (on behalf of Train Shetland).

Enthusiastic and confident staff

SDS praised NAFC’s “enthusiastic, dedicated and confident” aquaculture training staff and especially the “inspirational leadership” of Stuart Fitzsimmons (section leader for aquaculture training) who was described as “experienced and knowledgeable and very open to innovations in the development and delivery of the programme in order to ensure that the courses offered meet community and employer needs”.

SDS also commended NAFC’s “very positive and productive relationships with employers”, with all employers commenting on the “quality and flexibility” of the centre’s training and the expertise of its staff. SDS commented that this had resulted in NAFC’s aquaculture apprenticeship programme becoming “the benchmark qualification for local employers in the industry”. NAFC’s strong relationship with the apprentices was also highlighted.

High quality of training

NAFC’s interim joint principal, Willie Shannon, said: “This outstanding report from Skills Development Scotland confirms the high quality of the training delivered by the NAFC Marine Centre and the very positive relationship that it has with employers. As SDS has identified, that is due in very large part to the enthusiasm and hard work of our knowledgeable and experienced training staff, ably led by Stuart Fitzsimmons.”

Academic quality manager Duncan Kidson added that “the most important outcome of this audit is that NAFC has been audited and graded against an international quality standard set by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM)”.

Published: 28/11/2017 at 4:57 pm

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