Aquaculture reproduction expert Bridie Grant stopped work to start a family but found it challenging to resume her career. Photo: SAIC.

How back-to-work course rekindled my love of aquaculture

A programme to help women return to work after a career break, and to choose a job in aquaculture, has opened to applications for a new intake. Here aquaculture reproduction expert Bridie Grant explains how the confidence-building and skills development work of the inaugural Women Returners Programme helped her get back to working life after she left to start a family and found herself struggling to pick up where she had left off.

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“My interest in biology and fish started at a young age so it was a natural career choice,” says Bridie Grantm who is originally from the United States. “I studied aquaculture at the University of Stirling, then returned to the USA and worked in a number of research and breeding-focused roles, before completing a PhD in aquaculture reproduction and genetics at Stirling and going on to work at Mowi.

“My plans changed significantly when my husband and I decided to start a family and I was extremely fortunate to be able to put work on hold to be a stay-at-home parent. At the start of this year, I decided the time was right to head back to work but, like many, I found it challenging to kickstart my career again.

“I then came across the returners programme which seemed like it had been designed just for me – or at least for people in the same situation. The course was a fantastic opportunity to get back into the swing of things and connect with like-minded people and those currently working in the sector. It was a welcome reminder that my skills and knowledge remain relevant and that I am still very much part of aquaculture.

“After completing the programme, I had a newfound sense of enthusiasm for the sector and the confidence to take the next steps towards finding a new role. As a result, I’ve recently secured a position with SAIC (the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre) and will be starting as an aquaculture innovation officer in early 2022.

“I’m also hopeful that in the near future I can support women in a similar position to return to work, and it’s great to see that the returners programme will be running once again in January.”

40 places

The Women Returners Programme, run by SAIC in partnership with the Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) network, is now open to applications for the next intake starting on January 17.

Up to 40 free places are on offer to support women to get back into the workplace, whatever their reason for taking a career break, with the course focusing on confidence-building and personal branding with additional one-to-one support available to meet any specific needs.

Eight weeks of sessions will be led by delivery partner Skillfluence, aiming to highlight the range of career options that aquaculture can offer. SAIC emphasises that the course isn’t just for those who have worked in the sector before, and there will be workshops offering a comprehensive overview of aquaculture in Scotland, from shellfish and seaweed farming to salmon and the wider supply chain.

The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Skills Development Scotland.