The news comes as Scotland celebrates Scottish Apprenticeship Week, an opportunity to highlight the benefits apprenticeships bring to businesses and individuals while adding to the vibrancy of the Scottish economy.
Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, said: “Modern Apprenticeships safeguard business sustainability and offer a lifeline to many remote communities. The vast majority of these positions are based in remote areas of the Highlands and Islands, where it can be challenging to find long-term employment and well-paid careers.
“2014 was another successful year for Scotland’s number one food export. Not only was Scottish salmon named ‘best farmed salmon in the world’ by an independent survey of international retail buyers for a second time, it was also crowned the UK’s biggest food export for the first time ever.
“These accolades signify how important the industry is to Scotland’s economy and therefore it is essential that we look after our business to ensure it has every opportunity to realise its full potential in years to come. Investing in skills and training is a key way to do this. We have to make sure we have the right people in place with the necessary skills. Training is not restricted to school leavers, with experienced staff taking up opportunities as a path to further study and potential career advancement.
Stuart Simon is a Senior Marine Operatives at the Scottish Salmon Company’s Sgian Dubh site, near Dunoon. He grew up in Dunoon and was able to stay in the community through pursuing a career in aquaculture. Stuart is the company’s first employee to complete his MA level 3 and his tutors at Inverness College nominated him for the Lantra Land based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Award, for which he was runner-up earlier this year.
Stuart began his career as a Marine Operative in 2007, progressing to a Senior Marine Operative in 2012. He began the Modern Apprenticeship in July 2013, taking around a year to complete.
He said: “When I started working on the site in 2007 I honestly thought I would be standing on a cage, hand feeding fish. I thought I would do this until I found a ‘real career prospect’ but within a few months, I was surprised to see the scale of the industry, the science that went into growing a salmon and the enthusiasm of my new colleagues. I was hooked and quickly decided that this was for me.
“Instead of rushing through the work I decided to take my time and make the most of the opportunity while it was there and really go into as much detail as I could. As I was at the stage in my career where I felt I was ready to take on further responsibilities, the MA/SVQ3 was the perfect level to progress.
“The Modern Apprenticeship has without doubt opened doors for me. I have grown more confident and have developed a greater understanding of the aquaculture industry and in particular the way the Scottish Salmon Company operates. I have been able to put into practice the things I have learned. It’s a massive benefit to understand not just what we do but why we do it.
“Completing the course has made me realise just how much I enjoy learning so it has pushed me to find further education. From a professional point of view, I aim to push myself as far as possible and hopefully be able to take on a more senior role and more responsibilities in the future.”