John McCulloch from Unst has become the first person in Britain to complete a ground-breaking professional development programme in Aquaculture Management developed by the NAFC Marine Centre UHI.
John has completed the Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management just over 18 months after it was launched, whilst working as assistant site manager at Cooke Aquaculture Shetland’s Quoys salmon hatchery in Unst. He said that he had found the apprenticeship programme extremely educational and interesting, and praised the professionalism of the NAFC staff who had supported him through the programme and the support of his employer: “I have no doubt it will allow me to continue in assisting Cooke Aquaculture in producing what I think is the best salmon
on the market in what is such an important industry to the Scottish economy, maintaining and supporting rural communities such as Shetland. I would recommend this apprenticeship to anyone who get the chance to complete it.”
Course leader Stuart Fitzsimmons said that John’s completion of the apprenticeship marked an important milestone for the programme which was developed by NAFC and launched in March 2017: “Following the successful introduction of our Modern Apprenticeships in Aquaculture for new and experienced fish farm staff, we had a lot of interest from aquaculture companies in a training programme for their managers. The Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management was designed to meet that need and to provide a progression opportunity for staff who have completed Modern Apprenticeships. It allows senior aquaculture staff to gain a management qualification while working in the industry and building on their existing knowledge, experience and skills. The use of distance learning, supported by NAFC staff, means that people from anywhere in Scotland can undertake this training at times and places that suit them, without having to attend college classes.”
Stuart praised John for completing the apprenticeship to an excellent standard overall: “He has demonstrated competent management skills covering topics such as hatchery production, fish health and welfare, Health & Safety and human resources. John has been an excellent student to work with throughout his studies and I am delighted that he has completed the apprenticeship.”
Davie McMillan, manager of the hatchery where John works, said that he was delighted for John: “He has put a lot of effort into this apprenticeship, as he has in all the courses he has undertaken. It will stand him in good stead when he takes over from me on my retirement. The apprenticeships provided by NAFC are a great plus to our industry, especially to the freshwater sector where a more technical and scientific approach is required from egg to smolt production, and the administration and support provided by NAFC staff is excellent. The provision of this training enables anyone coming into the industry the opportunity to progress within an ever expanding sector.”
The technical apprenticeship is aimed at experienced senior-level fish farm staff, enabling them to gain a degree-level qualification in aquaculture management while working in the aquaculture industry. The programme covers both technical aquaculture-related topics, such as the management fish farm production, the maintenance of fish health, and the maintenance of a safe, healthy and productive environment, as well as management topics such as financial management, personnel management and operational planning. On completion of the programme
students receive a Lantra Technical Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 9 and an SQA Scottish Vocational Qualification at Level 4 (equivalent to an Ordinary Degree), plus additional short course certificates.
NAFC currently has 25 other senior aquaculture staff throughout Scotland enrolled in the Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management. A further 48 students are enrolled in the Centre’s Modern Apprenticeship’s in Aquaculture at Levels 2 and 3.
Full details of NAFC’s Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management and its other aquaculture apprenticeships and training courses are available at: www.nafc.uhi.ac.uk/aqua.