Applications now open on SAIC scheme to help women return to work in aquaculture

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Up to 40 free places are on offer to help aquaculture experts to spawn new career.

According to a press release issued on Wednesday, The Women Returners Programme, run by SAIC in partnership with the Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) network, is now open to applications for the next intake starting on 17 January.

Up to 40 free places are on offer to support women to get back into the workplace, with the course focusing on confidence-building and personal branding and with additional one-to-one support available to meet any specific needs.

Read more: “Today, fish farms are a very different place to work”

Anyone interested in joining the programme must:

  • Be based in Scotland
  • Identify as a woman
  • Be 25 years old or over
  • Have been unemployed for 6 months or more
  • Have been in employment before

Eight weeks of sessions will be led by delivery partner Skillfluence, aiming to highlight the range of exciting career options that aquaculture can offer. SAIC emphasised that the course isn’t just for those who have worked in the sector before, and there will be workshops offering a comprehensive overview of aquaculture in Scotland, from shellfish and seaweed farming to salmon and the wider supply chain.

Return to work
After taking a break from work to start a family, Bridie Grant, an expert in aquaculture reproduction and genetics, has been inspired through the Women Returners Programme to embark on a new career with the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

Thanks to the confidence-building and skills development work of the inaugural coaching programme, which was delivered earlier this year, Grant said her career had received a much-needed reboot after she found herself struggling to pick up where she had left off.

Grant said: “My interest in biology and fish started at a young age so it was a natural career choice. I studied aquaculture at the University of Stirling, then returned to the USA and worked in a number of research and breeding-focused roles, before completing a PhD in aquaculture reproduction and genetics and going on to work at Mowi.

Plans change
“My plans changed significantly when my husband and I decided to start a family and I was extremely fortunate to be able to put work on hold to be a stay-at-home parent. At the start of this year, I decided the time was right to head back to work but, like many, I found it challenging to kickstart my career again,” continued Grant.

“I then came across the returners programme which seemed like it had been designed just for me – or at least for people in the same situation. The course was a fantastic opportunity to get back into the swing of things and connect with like-minded people and those currently working in the sector. It was a welcome reminder that my skills and knowledge remain relevant and that I am still very much part of aquaculture.”

“After completing the programme, I had a newfound sense of enthusiasm for the sector and the confidence to take the next steps towards finding a new role. As a result, I’ve recently secured a position with SAIC and will be starting as an aquaculture innovation officer in early 2022. I’m also hopeful that in the near future I can support women in a similar position to return to work, and it’s great to see that the returners programme will be running once again in January.”

The Women Returners Programme is funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Skills Development Scotland.