Top trainees make awards shortlist
Aquaculture hopefuls to compete at prestigious ceremony
AQUACULTURE trainees Jack Fraser, John Blance and Kati Michalek have all been shortlisted for Lantra Scotland’s Landbased and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel on Thursday, March, 2.
John, from Lerwick in Shetland, is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 3 in Aquaculture through NAFC Marine Centre while employed as a fish technician at Grieg Seafood in Shetland.
Having worked for the Post Office since 1988, he decided it was time for a career change. He is currently based in the lumpsucker hatchery, carrying out routine husbandry procedures, water quality checks, feeding, grading and vaccination.
‘I’m really chuffed to have been nominated for a Lantra award, as I’ve put as much as I can into my studies,’ he said.
‘The support I’ve had from everyone at North Atlantic Fisheries College and Grieg Seafood has enabled me to get this far and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved as a Modern Apprentice.’
Jack, from Caol near Fort William, is doing a Modern Apprenticeship SVQ Level 2 and 3 in Aquaculture through Inverness College UHI, while working as an assistant manager at Marine Harvest in Fort William.
His dream is to become a site manager one day. In addition to his day job, Jack has also taken on an ambassadorial role, actively engaging with young people and promoting career opportunities in the aquaculture sector.
He said: ‘I was delighted to get nominated for this award and I’m proud that I’ve got through to the final. The support I’ve had from Inverness College UHI and my employer, Marine Harvest, has made this all possible.’
Kati Michalek, from Oban, is doing a PhD in Shellfish Aquaculture at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban.
Her work is part of a bigger European project aiming to provide new insights into how bivalves such as mussels, scallops, oysters and clams will cope with climate change.
Last year, Kati had her first peer reviewed paper published, highlighting important results for the shellfish industry.
‘I was honestly touched and surprised to be nominated for a Lantra award. The support I have received throughout my time at SAMS, particularly from my director of studies Dr Kim Last, has been truly humbling. It’s a great place to work and I hope that I do them proud at the awards’ ceremony.’
The Learner of the Year Awards, organised by Lantra Scotland, the sector skills council for the land-based, aquaculture and environmental industries, are now in their 15th year of celebrating the achievements of trainees within Scotland’s rural sector and encouraging employers to invest in the next generation of talent.
Finalists are vying for 13 categories, including: agriculture, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering, fisheries management and environmental conservation industries as well as the Modern Apprentice of the Year, Rural Schools, Higher Education and CARAS Awards.
The top accolades of the night will be the Overall Winner and Runner-up prizes. Last year’s winner was game keeper and Shinty player Savio Genini.
The awards recognise learners with exceptional talent and willingness to learn and are among the most prestigious in the country.
The Modern Apprentice of the Year and the winners of the CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) awards will also be announced on the night.
A newcomer to the Lantra event in 2017 will be the Tam Tod Trophy, awarded in association with Countryside Learning Scotland to an outstanding young learner. The award was created in memory of the late Tam Tod, described as a well-loved gamekeeper, ghillie and lifelong friend of the countryside.
Jean’s Jam Award, now in its third year, will also be announced on the night. Donated by training instructor Elspeth Watson in memory of her friend, Jean Costello, this award recognises the most inspiring mentor, teacher or trainer. It was won last year by Scott Mason of Stirling Council Fisheries.
The finalists for the 2017 learner of the year awards were chosen by a judging panel of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sectors. The 2017 judges are: Ray Jones, former chairman of Scotland Food and Drink; agriculture and rural affairs journalist Erika Hay; Keith Paterson of Forestry Commission Scotland; farmer Keith Redpath; Lisa Connell of the Scottish Salmon Company; and Rebecca Dawes of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs.
Kevin Patrick, director of Lantra Scotland said: ‘We are delighted to announce our finalists for the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards 2017 and are extremely grateful to the independent panel of judges and to the training providers and employers for all their hard work.
‘These awards continue to play an important role in communicating and celebrating the value of gaining qualifications, developing skills and improving standards.’
Ray Jones, chair of the judges, said: ‘Every year the judges are inspired by the enthusiasm, vitality and determination to succeed that our candidates demonstrate.
‘These learners can be going into difficult employment markets, and being a finalist or even getting nominated in Lantra’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year awards can help them get a foothold into a long-term and rewarding career.’
I’m proud of what I’ve achieved as a Modern ce” Apprentice
Clockwise from above: Kati Michalek at SAMS; Jack Fraser of Marine Harvest; and John Blance of Grieg Seafood