Recruitment drive as salmon industry grows
THE salmon farming industry in Scotland has growth aspirations and to achieve these it is going to need more people.
There is, therefore, a recruitment drive going on, with numerous jobs and opportunities available in the sector, said Iain Berrill of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), giving a salmon industry perspective on careers in aquaculture.
Berrill stressed the importance of making contacts: ‘We’re a very close knit industry…the most important thing is about relationships.’
The salmon companies in Scotland are mostly large businesses, highly structured and with serious investment in their staff.
‘There are excellent career prospects in salmon farming, the salaries are really good, and it’s a very stable industry with a pool of very significant businesses.’
There are numerous roles, including farm managers, production directors, moorings experts, engineers, boat crew, logistics, biologists, veterinarians, fish health managers, nutritionists, feed analysts, laboratory managers, sales, training and finances, among others.
There is plenty of scope to move within these roles as your skills develop, said Berrill, and new recruits can work their way up from, say, assistant farm manager, to farm manager, regional manager, and then production director.
‘There are even roles for translators – our businesses sell to over 50 countries globally and if you speak a foreign language it’s very useful.’
He said a common question from students is. ‘how do I get into this sector when over qualified but lacking in experience’. Berrill’s advice was to go in at the bottom and work your way up. ‘If you’ve got experience it’s hugely valuable and once you are identified as someone who has the academic skills as well as that experience, the opportunity to progress is huge.’
He mentioned Mowi’s head of cleaner fish, Dougie Hunter, as a case study to demonstrate the route to top jobs in a big organisation.
Hunter started as a technician for Mowi on the Lochailort feed trial units and worked his way up to assistant manager. Then he started managing that facility, before moving into a more research and development role.
He was technical services manager and that role expanded to cover fish health, environment, quality assurance and research.
Five or six years ago he was relocated to Canada to be seawater production director. And earlier this year he came back and is now head of cleaner fish and technical for Mowi Scotland, one of the key senior managers in the leadership team.
Berrill told the students to work out what they wanted from a job and to exploit their valuable transferable skills.
‘You don’t realise some of the things you have learnt (at university) - your attention to detail, and your ability to compress complex information into bite size chunks.’
And he said that setbacks can act as motivation: after completing his PhD at Stirling he spent 18 months temping, working in a call centre, a tough but motivating experience.
Above: The SSPO’s Iain Berrill gives jobs advice to students