New study will identify skills bottlenecks in Scottish aquaculture

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Scotland’s aquaculture companies, plus those offering related services, are being encouraged to take part in a study to determine the future skills needs of the sector as it grows.

The study, commissioned by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, will involve consultation and survey work to explore the scale and composition of the aquaculture workforce, the current and future skills requirements of the sector and the skills pipeline that feeds it.  Findings will shape the development of an Industry Workforce Planning Strategy and Action Plan.

The Scottish Government’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “This Government is committed to supporting Scotland’s aquaculture sector to continue to grow in a sustainable way. This mapping work will help to ensure that we have the right skills in the right places in the sector and have a plan in place to address any gaps.”

Stewart Graham, managing director of Gael Force and co-chair of the AILG (Aquaculture Industry Leaders Group), added: “Feedback from the finfish producers has consistently been that people and their skills are a significant potential constraint to our sectors’ growth plans going forward. This is closely tied to the availability and affordability of rural housing which is a high-level challenge for the government and private sector supply. Skills mapping, however, is something the industry can and must take a lead on now, to plan for the future.”

He encouraged all aquaculture producers and the wider supply chain to fully engage with this mapping exercise.

The majority (96%) of the UK aquaculture industry, and all of the UK salmon farming industry, is located in the Highlands and Islands. The industry has recently produced  ‘Aquaculture Growth to 2030’, which provides a strategy to double this sector over the next decade and beyond. Ambitious but realistic production targets would boost annual turnover to £3.6 billion, supporting up to 18,000 jobs in Scotland.