Top trainees make awards short­list

Aqua­cul­ture hope­fuls to com­pete at pres­ti­gious ceremony

Fish Farmer - - Lantra -

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

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