Rush for places as new course is launched in Shetland
THE NAFC Marine Centre in Shetland is busier than at any time since it opened 22 years ago, with demand for a wide range of courses at record levels. There has been a rush for places on several new a uaculture courses, including the fish farm containment course, which has seen 93 students certificated since it was launched in March.
Kther courses rolled out this year include fish health (41 students certificated), water uality awareness (40 certificated and 40 more enrolled), advanced fish health (to begin in June) and biosecurity (beginning this month).
NAFC head of short courses Mark Fullerton said We are the busiest we have ever been, not only in terms of numbers of students but in the range of courses that we are doing.
The Introductory Fish Farm Containment oneday course was developed directly in response to the industry re uiring sta trained in containment to prevent fish escapes, in alignment with new Sco sh government legislation.
Aimed at entry level marine and freshwater husbandry and maintenance sta , it covers legislative re uirements causes of fish escapes cage and net types, designs, weighting, securing predator ne ng inspections mooring systems and maintenance statutory record keeping dealing with losses and health and safety considerations. There is a short written assessment at the end of the course.
The course material is designed to address the Sco sh Technical Standards 2015, said NAFC a uaculture section leader Stuart Fit simmons. It was developed a er a meeting with a local company that re uired specific training needs, but has also been delivered to other companies in Scotland.
The course material was developed by enny i ord he has over 30 years a uaculture experience, including as a salmon farm owner and manager, diver, through to MA assessor and trainer.
His practical knowledge on containment is immense and that is re ected in the excellent feedback from the students, who range from completely new fish farmers to site managers.
The next step currently in development is online delivery of short courses, such as the fish containment available by the end of this year , to reach a wider audience.
Farm sta are released for one-day or two-day courses dependent on their workloads, said Fit simmons.
The students have a very diverse background of nationalities, experience and geographical locations, which makes our assessment and training very challenging and interesting.
We have to be exible in our dates and also go to their sites to deliver courses if re uired. We deliver courses to remote islands so it is a cheaper and easier option for us to travel to them.
Fit simmons took over from i ord when he retired last July. i ord had been the SsY assessor trainer for the SsY A uaculture and NPA for nine years. enny oversaw the development of the Modern Apprentice A uaculture into its current form in 2014, said Fit simmons.
These are more than 150 students, from those starting out on their careers to those returning for further training, currently attending the NAFC centre, based in Scalloway. This includes some 51 secondary school pupils from around the islands who regularly attend for engineering and maritime skills courses as part of their studies.
We are bursting at the seams, in the nicest possible way, said NAFC head of training and skills Andy len.
The place is bu ing with students and sta . Some days, frankly, it is di - cult to get a space in the car park.
Apart from the ongoing issue of funding, the biggest problem we have at the moment is meeting the demand for places and everyone is hard at work trying to do just that.
The centre, which opened in 1994 and is now part of the hniversity of the Highlands and Islands network, provides a huge range of services to the maritime industries, including research and development and consultancy and advisory support, as well as education and training. It employs more than 40 people.