He was speaking at the ‘Ministerial Working Group on Aquaculture’ held today. He told Michael Russell MSP, Minister for Environment, that the industry was about to embark on a new study to identify the skills needs in the salmon farming sector.
Entitled ‘Salmon farming: meeting the industry’s future needs’, the study is supported by Lantra and the sector skills council for aquaculture. It will consider the need for the industry to develop and implement a framework for the progression and development of its workforce.
“Promoting salmon farming as an attractive career opportunity and providing access to appropriate training are vital factors in the industry achieving its full potential,” said Patten.
The demands, responsibilities and skill level required to work in aquaculture are very high and require increasing levels of competence and specialist knowledge. Training and skills development are also critical to the future sustainability of the sector and the industry’s ability to reverse the decline in populations in coastal communities. Mr Patten said that this was particularly the case across the west coast and islands of Scotland.
Liz Paul, Lantra’s Regional Partnership Manager for Highlands and Islands area, said that training and improving workforce skills was part of Lantra’s core work.
“As the Sector Skills Council for aquaculture we are very concerned with challenging the old fashioned image that salmon farming has as an industry, with low skill requirements and limited opportunities. It is imperative that the industry promotes a professional image and offers clear, structured career paths to attract a high calibre of new entrants," she added.
Choice and quality of learning and development were key issues and needed to matches the employer and employee requirements and such policies would benefit productivity, said Ms Paul.
Among the new initiative’s top priority will be given to the provision of training to people in remote and rural areas, and also the possible establishment of new vocational qualifications.