The Mil­len­nium

New re­cruits are vi­tal to Marine Harvest’s ex­pan­sion – and to plug­ging the in­dus­try’s skills gap

Fish Farmer - - Contents -

Marine Harvest (Scot­land) Ltd is a com­pany that prides it­self on pro­vid­ing a safe and en­joy­able work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and of of­fer­ing a ca­reer struc­ture that al­lows its em­ploy­ees to im­prove and chal­lenge them­selves, and to rise up within the com­pany. As such, staff re­ten­tion is ex­cel­lent, demon­strated by the num­ber of em­ploy­ees with over 20-25 years’ ser­vice. How­ever, the com­pany is also con­scious of the im­por­tance of bring­ing new blood into the or­gan­i­sa­tion, par­tic­u­larly in the light of a po­ten­tial skills gap that is fac­ing the in­dus­try as a whole. So, in 2012, Marine Harvest (Scot­land) Ltd de­vel­oped an in-house ap­pren­tice­ship scheme to en­cour­age young re­cruits into the com­pany and to of­fer them the rel­e­vant skills train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence to cre­ate a work­force to cope with the com­pany’s in­creas­ing size.

‘In Fe­bru­ary last year we agreed that we would take on two ap­pren­tic- es a year, who would be ex­posed to all parts of the in­dus­try’, ex­plains Hu­man Re­sources Man­ager, Vicky Fer­gu­son. ‘We are look­ing for school leavers with good stan­dard grades in at least English, maths and a science, plus a driv­ing li­cence, as the first six months of train­ing is in par­tic­u­larly re­mote ar­eas of the coun­try. In 2013 we took on Ross Mac­Don­ald and Cameron Mac­Don­ald, and in­tro­duced them to all ar­eas of the busi­ness: fresh­wa­ter, sea wa­ter and pro­cess­ing.’

Ross and Cameron have now both com­pleted their ap­pren­tice­ships, which in­cluded an SVQ L2 in aqua­cul­ture, which was taught by Mur­ray Stark at In­ver­ness Col­lege, part of the High­lands and Is­lands Univer­sity, as well as an im­pres­sive num­ber of prac­ti­cal cour­ses. ‘In-house train­ing in­cludes: a boat course; sea sur­vival; fish health; feed; health and safety; chem­i­cal han­dling; and fi­nance’, Fer­gu­son ex­plains. ‘If the ap­pren­tices gain these var­i­ous qual­i­fi­ca­tions they will be guar­an­teed a po­si­tion, although they will be ex­pected to re­lo­cate to any site within Marine Harvest (Scot­land) Ltd.’

Feed­back from Ross and Cameron, and those en­trusted with su­per­vis­ing them, has been good. ‘We man­age them very care­fully, be­cause as they are com­ing straight out of school and be­ing thrust into a work­ing en­vi­ron­ment – par­tic­u­larly one as de­mand­ing as this one – it can be a dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion’, says Fer­gu­son. ‘But they coped very well, which is fan­tas­tic.’

Ross Mac­Don­ald, from Lochaber, has noth­ing but praise for the Marine Harvest ap­pren­tice­ship. ‘I’ve thor­oughly en­joyed the pro­gramme’, he says. ‘It gave me a full over­view of salmon pro­duc­tion, cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from rear­ing eggs, look­ing af­ter fish in both fresh and sea

wa­ter, to har­vest­ing and pro­cess­ing. I par­tic­u­larly en­joyed learn­ing how to un­der­take reg­u­lar fish health checks and how to mea­sure wel­fare stan­dards by sam­pling and test­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions.’

Ross has been of­fered a full time po­si­tion with the com­pany and will be based around the Fort Wil­liam area, ‘where I’ll be part of a mo­bile team go­ing around all of the sites in the Fort Wil­liam area, check­ing fish for sea lice’, he says, ‘which is great be­cause it means I can live and work in the area where I grew up. I had never heard of Marine Harvest be­fore I saw the ap­pren­tice­ship ad­ver­tised in the lo­cal pa­per – in fact I wanted to be a po­lice of­fi­cer. But I haven’t looked back and there’s a great ca­reer with Marine Harvest; I hope to rise up within the

I hope to rise up within the com­pany and even­tu­ally be in higher man­age­ment”

com­pany and even­tu­ally be in higher man­age­ment.’

Cameron Mac­Don­ald has just com­pleted his Marine Harvest ap­pren­tice­ship and, just like Ross, he has found the whole ex­pe­ri­ence thor­oughly en­joy­able. ‘The great thing about the ap­pren­tice­ship is that you get to see ev­ery as­pect of the com­pany’, he says. ‘I didn’t know much about Marine Harvest prior to my in­ter­view; be­fore that I was work­ing in a bak­ery in Stornoway, which is where I’m from, and I was think­ing about join­ing the army be­cause job op­por­tu­ni­ties on Lewis are lim­ited. I’m glad I de­cided to do this – it’s great be­ing out­doors and I love work­ing with boats. The ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties with Marine Harvest are fan­tas­tic; I’m only nine­teen and I’ve al­ready started a pen­sion.’

Be­low: Ross Mac­Don­ald

Top: Cameron Mac­Don­ald Left Inset: Mur­ray Stark Left: In­ver­ness Col­lege

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