Helping support that personal growth, we’re constantly growing our network of local and national skills partners.


The result is a range of learning journeys, tailored to different ages and life stages.

Soon-to-be school leavers

Aquaculture Academy
Ideal for: soon to be school-leavers considering their career options

Designed in partnership with Argyll College UHI, and currently being piloted with secondary schools in the surrounding areas, our Aquaculture Academy combines classroom teaching with practical elements including time out on farm and around core business departments, as well as coaching in key life skills such as how to interview well and write a job application that stands out from the crowd.

The aim is to give students an insight into the careers available within the sector at an earlier stage in their decision-making and an idea of the level of support on offer within Scottish Sea Farms.

Photo courtesy of Richard Leadbeater

Just starting out

On-the-job training
Ideal for: those new to the sector or company

There’s nothing quite like doing a task to learn a task and we offer all manner of on-the-job training tailored to each role and department, supported by regular toolbox talks to keep the team refreshed and up to date with the latest best practice and developments.

Modern Apprenticeships
Ideal for: those looking to work their way up through the different roles

While many of our farm managers have worked their way up through the different roles via on-the-job training, others have undertaken a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture which is available in a range of levels: from beginner to more advanced to degree level.

Modern Apprenticeships aren’t just for our farm teams. They’re available in a range of other relevant subjects, from Business Administration and Management to IT, Digital Applications and Customer Sales.

Interested in finding out more? Read about our apprentices’ experiences in their own words:

When did you start your Scottish Sea Farms apprenticeship?

I have been with the company for about a year and a half, having started as an engineering assistant for six months before beginning the apprenticeship.

What does an engineering apprenticeship involve?

It is part learning on the job and part college based. In the first year, there are four blocks of five weeks at a time at Thurso (North Highland College, part of UHI). And in the second year, it’s blocks of two weeks at a time. The amount of time spent in college gradually decreases as the apprenticeship progresses. At the end of the third year, there will be a final assessment and then, if I pass, I will be qualified.

What do you learn at college?

In the first year, you’re mainly in the workshop, learning about different types of circuits you’ll come across. In the second year, you work on a warehouse project, which includes the planning and building of a warehouse and the electrical installation within it.

What does on-the-job training involve?

Mostly, I’m out on the boats and feed barges, fault finding, or installing power for marine pens, or at the shore bases. Increasingly, I am trusted to do jobs myself, under supervision, and I enjoy the responsibility.

Why did you choose this career path?

I have been interested in going into an electrical profession since my fourth year at secondary school. I knew I didn’t want to do domestic wiring in houses so started thinking more about marine engineering.

And why this sector and this company?

I’m from Vidlin on Shetland, in a region where there are a lot of salmon farms, so I was aware of both the sector and of Scottish Sea Farms. I don’t have any family members in the company but I have relatives who work in other aquaculture companies, including in engineering roles. I got in touch with Scottish Sea Farms and they agreed to take me on.

Do you prefer the college or the on-the-job learning?

There is a good balance between the two. I really enjoyed my first year because it was all new and we did a lot in the workshop. But going into the second year, the college work is more classroom based and, ideally, I like to be outside, at the farms.

Are you the only apprentice in your department?

Yes, and I’m the youngest in a team of about 12 but there are a few others who are in their twenties. I meet other young people in the company at the farm sites. On my course, there are young apprentices from Orkney who all do electrical installation but their focus is more house based, not marine. I’m the only one from Shetland and Thurso is kind of difficult to get to! I fly to Orkney then get the overnight ferry to Scrabster and take a taxi to the college.

Do you find the learning curve challenging?

I was pretty eager to learn when I joined the company and didn’t find it too daunting. Also, at school I studied maths, science, physics, metalwork and woodwork, engineering, and English, all of which have helped. I find that a lot of the science calculations I have to do in college I already covered at school.

Do you get mentored?

I am supervised by the qualified electrical engineer in our team, Saul Swanson, and I also sometimes get called out to assist one of the mechanical engineers at Scottish Sea Farms. I work with some very experienced engineers and have always felt supported in my apprenticeship. I think they like training up someone from scratch.

What’s the best part of the job?

We’re based in Scalloway and can go to any site in Shetland, wherever there is an issue. You’re moving around the whole time, so there’s no chance of getting bored by being in the same place. You can learn so much and are given quite a lot of responsibility at a young age.

What have you found difficult?

Apart from getting used to the longer hours and missing the school holidays, I haven’t had much trouble settling in. I was the first among my school friends to take on an apprenticeship but now several have gone down this route, after seeing how I was getting on.

How do you see your future?

Once you have a good trade behind you, you can go anywhere or become self-employed. But this is a good secure job and I like the variety of working in this sector and would like to get all the experience I can here.

When did you start your Scottish Sea Farms apprenticeship?

I started my job as a Trainee Husbandry at Coledeep farm in Shetland in February 2020 with Grieg Seafood and enrolled on the apprenticeship about a year later, completing it after the acquisition of Grieg by Scottish Sea Farms.

Why did you choose this career path?

I love working outside so when this job came up after I left school it was perfect for me. I didn’t have any relatives or friends working in the business but as a Shetlander I was aware of the salmon farming sector.

What did your apprenticeship involve?

I’ve now completed the SVQ level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture, which involved on-the-job learning and assessments, covering a number of different units.

What did on-the-job training involve?

Along with the course work, assessors from UHI Shetland came to the site to observe and record the jobs I was doing. These included grading the fish, lice counting, handling fish, and taking a boat out, all testing my competency in fish husbandry.

How did you combine the extra work with your day job?

It was sometimes awkward finding the time to do it but when the weather was bad and we were ashore I was able to catch up on my course work. And if I got stuck on anything, I was surrounded by all these people who knew what they were doing. Sometimes I took work home at night when I wanted to spend a bit longer on assignments.

Did you get mentored?

As mentioned above, there is a lot of experience in the team to draw on. Although I didn’t have a mentor as such, everyone here was very helpful whenever I needed advice.

Did you find the learning curve challenging?

The challenge was sometimes fitting the course work into the daily workload but I managed okay. As the apprenticeship is based on the jobs you’re doing anyway, it wasn’t too difficult because I have quite a good understanding of the demands of the jobs on the farm.

Were you the only apprentice in your department?

There are two others doing the apprenticeship at the moment; they started just as I was finishing my level 2. The managers here encourage us to do apprenticeships, and then it’s up to the individual how far they want to go.

What’s next for you?

Having completed level 2, I want to do level 3, once I’ve discussed what’s involved with my tutor in Scalloway, Joe MacDonald, and my farm managers.

What are the benefits so far?

Being able to write about the jobs you’re doing gives you more of an understanding of what they involve. The whole process makes you think more, and encourages you to talk to people about certain aspects of farming and find out more.

And, of course, it’s good to have a qualification at the end, something to show for all the work you’ve done.

How do you see your future?

I’m happy here so my plan is to stay in the business and see how far I can develop my career in the sector.

When did you start your Scottish Sea Farms apprenticeship?

I started working at Scottish Sea Farms in May 2021 in the processing plant at South Shian and I approached Donald MacAulay, Primary Processing Manager, about an opening in the engineering department. I went to work for a while in the waste management section and then, after about a year, I enrolled in the Modern Apprenticeship at level 1.

What does an engineering apprenticeship involve?

I completed a mechanical engineering SVQ level I in the first year, which was college based so I spent nine months at UHI Inverness.

What did you learn at college?

I learnt about machine work and assembly, as well as doing units in, among other things, pneumatics and hydraulics, and health and safety too.

What does on-the-job training involve?

I have recently returned to Oban and embarked on the next part of my apprenticeship, which is mechanical and electrical engineering SVQ level 2. Unlike the first year, this will all be on-the-job learning. The units are tailored to the work place so the course work depends to some extent on what is happening here.

Course work is submitted via Onefile software and involves answering questions on specific jobs I’ve done, including an explanation of the job, all the tools used, any issues encountered, and the thought processes I went through while doing it. I can choose what topics to cover depending on the jobs I’m doing, provided they meet the course criteria.

How is your work assessed?

Every three months, a tutor at the college comes to Oban and goes over the work I’ve done and ensures I’m meeting the deadlines and keeping to my timeframe. There are 10 modules to complete over the next three years but some people finish everything in a matter of months so it is very flexible.

Do you prefer the college or on-the-job learning?

Although I enjoyed being in the college, I much prefer the work environment for learning. I like being hands-on and I learn more easily this way. Plus, I actually enjoy this kind of work anyway and the apprenticeship is part of my working day.

Why did you choose this career path?

I’d always liked working with cars and motorbikes and had some experience in mechanics before joining Scottish Sea Farms. I decided I could use the skills I had already acquired, gain some more and broaden my knowledge, all while doing something I enjoyed and earning a better salary than I could as a mechanic.

And why this company?

Scottish Sea Farms is right on my doorstep so, firstly, it was very convenient and, secondly, the company gave me the opportunity to progress my career. Starting off in processing has provided me with a good understanding of the business.

Are you the only apprentice in your department?

There is one other apprentice doing the same level as me but he is already a qualified engineer and is being put through the apprenticeship to get an official qualification.

Do you find the learning curve challenging?

I haven’t found anything about the course exceptionally challenging so far. There have been bits that have been hard but I haven’t really been stumped by anything. I’ve only just started on level 2 so I don’t know yet what kind of balance it will be to juggle things once the work gets under way.

Do you get mentored?

In the engineering department there are four qualified engineers so whoever I’m with at the time is my mentor. Everyone specialises in different things, even though they all work in the same sector, and they are all very supportive and helpful.

What’s the best part of the job?

It’s the small rewards every day, when you learn something new and you can keep on applying it by yourself and not have to have someone there with you to remind you each time. That gradual building up of responsibility over time is the most rewarding part of the apprenticeship for me.

How do you see your future?

My training is in land based rather than marine engineering so my future role will be at the processing plant in South Shian. There is some crossover with marine engineering but I’m very happy where I am at the moment.

When did you start your Scottish Sea Farms apprenticeship?

I have been working towards SVQ level 3 for the past year, having joined Scottish Sea Farms full-time in May 2021.

Why did you choose this career path?

I first started working at Bloody Bay farm part-time in 2015, during my travels. After returning home to South Africa, I realised I missed the way of life here and so when I saw a Trainee Husbandry job advertised at Scottish Sea Farms I applied. To my surprise, I got it and was reunited with some of the old team at Bloody Bay. I arrived during the pandemic and had to quarantine for two weeks but I fitted back in quickly. I love being on the water and have an affinity for the sea, perhaps because I grew up inland in Pretoria. Since then, I’ve transferred to nearby Mull farm Fiunary, and last October I was promoted to Senior Husbandry, with the additional responsibility for Fish Health and Health and Safety Representative.

What does your job involve?

I’m responsible for the health of the salmon and the cleaner fish. I’m also involved in a gill health study with the vet team, to help understand the effects of micro jellyfish. I collect samples and run blood tests and we discuss strategies for lice and gill health.

Why did you decide to do the SVQ?

Partly because I love learning and also for personal and professional betterment. I see my work at Scottish Sea Farms as a career not a job, it’s part of my life, and I want to be better, mostly for the fish but also for the company.

What does your apprenticeship involve?

It’s all on the job learning. We are given eight modules to do, some of which we choose ourselves. I picked some modules outside my day-to-day remit, to broaden my horizons. For example, providing a safe, healthy and secure working environment, which has increased my knowledge and given me the confidence to lead on health and safety as the Health and Safety rep at the farm.

Do you find the learning curve challenging?

Juggling with the day job has slowed my progress slightly but that could be down to my own time management. If there are things happening on the farm and we need to treat, for example, that always comes first. But the apprenticeship is flexible and allows plenty of time to finish the course.

What are the benefits of the apprenticeship?

I’m learning so much, especially when I have to go beyond my daily role and have to research relatively new subjects. That not only improves my knowledge but is also beneficial to the farm.

Do you get mentored?

My current manager, Daniel Braid, and previous manager, Andrew MacLeannan, who enrolled me on the apprenticeship, have both been my mentors. I run ideas past them, not just for the course but also in my role here. And my co-workers are all very supportive as well.

Are there any other apprentices in your department?

There are no other apprentices here at the moment but others are keen to enrol since hearing about my experiences. Daniel is hoping to get a couple more apprentices on the farm now.

What’s next?

I’d like to do SVQ level 4 next, or even an MSc in aquaculture. I’m looking to do a course at the University of Stirling in aquaculture, specifically in fish health. I have done a three-day advanced fish health course at the Institute of Aquaculture there already, which was absolutely fabulous. The apprenticeship is not the end of my learning journey. The more you know, the more you can do and the better you are.

How do you see your future?

As for further opportunities, I see myself more in a fish health than farm manager role, supporting the fish vets for the Isle of Mull region. My future is definitely here in Scotland. I went home recently for the first time in three years and I’m looking forward to my parents visiting me so I can show them the farm and the feed barge and Mull. My Dad is proud of what I’ve achieved here and when he sees Tobermory, he’ll understand why I’ve come all this way for work.

When did you start your Scottish Sea Farms apprenticeship?

Soon after I joined Scottish Sea Farms at Eday, on Orkney, in 2016 my then farm manager, Phil Boardman, suggested that I enrol on a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture. In 2017, I started an SVQ level 2 and completed this and level 3 in quick succession.

Why did you embark on this learning programme?

I struggled academically when I was younger so I really wanted to make a success of this as it was going to be the first thing I’d have as a qualification. And because it was vocational, it was an easier way for me to learn. In fact, in 2020, my mentor at UHI Shetland (then NAFC Marine Centre), Matthew Wright, nominated me for the LANTRAs and I was named runner-up in the Aquaculture Learner of the Year award.

What level of apprenticeship are you on now?

I took a year away to focus more on the job when I was promoted to Farm Manager at Eday. But now I am doing level 4, a more advanced technical apprenticeship. I decided to carry on because I thought the qualification would put me in good stead for my future and solidify what I had already achieved as a manager. I know the job and know what I’m doing but having that on paper to show what I’ve achieved is very important to me.

What does the apprenticeship involve?

It is mostly on-the-job learning, with units undertaken both during and out of work hours. Much of what you do is based on the day-to-day job and you are assessed on site visits and in interviews. Along with mandatory units, which include health and safety, containment, managing fish health and biosecurity, treatments, and calculations for feed growth and feed rates, there are units you select, such as managing budgets, which I chose because I lack experience in this area.

How do you combine the extra work with your day job?

Although the work itself is not that onerous because you’re documenting what you already do on a daily basis, I do regret not doing level 4 before I became a farm manager because now my workload has increased and it’s taking me longer to complete the course. Matthew at UHI Shetland has been very flexible, though, and enabled me to do assessments virtually and cut down the written work.

What are the benefits so far?

The apprenticeship is really tailored towards aquaculture so while I had good practical skills before, I now have a greater knowledge and understanding of the sector. I wasn’t daunted when I took this on because I’m quite confident and I try to pass that on to the people I work with. Confidence is the key thing in a farming environment and at sea, where you have to be able to drive boats, understand about engines, and everything else that contributes towards safeguarding the welfare of the fish. The extent of the skills you need is something that made me interested in the job in the first place.

And the main challenges?

The hardest thing for me has been managing people. I’m not naturally diplomatic or patient and I’ve had to learn to be. Helping this, I am doing another, separate, management course that Scottish Sea Farms put me on, run by the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).

Would you recommend the apprenticeship?

I’ve encouraged staff to do the apprenticeship, including those with marine biology degrees who often don’t think it’s necessary. But even though they’ve learned a lot at university, a level 2 or 3 SVQ will teach them things about the job they didn’t know.

Is the company supportive?

Scottish Sea Farms is good at getting you through basic training and then offering to put you through the Modern Apprenticeship.

What will the next stage be for you?

I aim to complete my level 4 apprenticeship early next year, once our latest crop is in the water. Then I will take a break and hone my skills as a manager. But I would like to continue studying and maybe do the aquaculture degree at some point.

How do you see your future?

I’ve surprised myself, going from being a school leaver without qualifications to being eligible for a degree. Perhaps I’m not such a poor learner after all! It’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it and I’m extremely proud and grateful for the opportunities I’ve had since coming to Orkney from down south nearly 20 years ago. Having gone through all the learning over the past few years at Scottish Sea Farms, I don’t think I’d change sectors now.

When did you start your Scottish Sea Farms apprenticeship?

I have been with the company for just over two years, having started at Grieg Seafood, and received on the job training as a fish health coordinator and aqua technician. I began my apprenticeship at level 3 towards the end of 2021. I had a degree in animal biology from the University of Stirling, so this was considered a good level to start at.

Why did you decide to do the SVQ?

I knew that other people here had done the SVQ and I pushed for it because I love studying. Also, although I’d studied animal biology, I didn’t know anything about aquaculture when I got here and thought it would be beneficial to my job to actually learn about it.

Having completed level 3 last year, I asked to do level 4 straight afterwards. I was told it was management level and it would mean working more in my own time because the qualification is more intense at this stage.

What does your apprenticeship involve?

It involves course work, done on the job rather than attending college. We get about six units, which include written work and oral questions, with product evidence to support it all. Then there are site visits from staff at UHI Shetland (formerly NAFC Marine Centre), who assess us.

What units are you studying?

Mine are mostly freshwater-based and include planning and managing fish feeding regimes, managing the production of farmed fish sales, and developing and managing the fish health plan. Some units are compulsory while others are selected by the student, so some were tailored to my current role and interests. My job is very varied and covers general fish husbandry as well as doing health checks, taking PCRs, histology samples and so on, and getting the smolts ready to go to sea.

Do you find the learning curve challenging?

Level 4 is a lot more demanding and time-consuming than level 3 as the questions are more management based and require more in-depth answers. With level 3, I was able to fit in the workload in about an hour at the end of the working day, but now I take a fair bit of this home to do, the written questions especially. I am juggling it okay at the moment though and I am about half way through the course.

What are the benefits of the apprenticeship?

There are a lot of engineering and maintenance questions, which teach you about how a hatchery runs. You have to go and find things out and speak to different people because during, say, a power cut, there are procedures you’d do as a fish tech but at level 4 you also have to understand what the engineers do. I find I am exploring parts of the business I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I’m even learning about sales and production forecasting, which I wouldn’t necessarily do in my day-to-day role.

Do you get mentored?

I’m not really mentored at work but if I’m not sure of something the managers here are fantastic and guide me on how to go about answering the more difficult questions. And the other members of staff are also very helpful as some have done level 4 so they understand what’s required. Of course, my tutor, Stuart Fitzsimmons, is also fantastic and I can message him any time. He’s my life support in a crisis!

Are there any other apprentices in your department?

Out of our fairly small team here, there is an engineer doing a level 2 SVQ and a fish technician doing a level 3 at the moment, and one of the managers is doing his level 4 SVQ too.

Why did you choose this career path?

After getting my degree, I worked at Edinburgh Zoo and in Greece with a sea turtle charity, among other things, and then I came to Shetland to work in a pharmacy. That’s when I saw the Scottish Sea Farms job advertised and I thought why not apply for it and see what happens.

How do you see your future?

There isn’t a level 5 SVQ but If there was, I’d go for it. I have heard that the Scalloway campus of UHI might be bringing back a masters in aquaculture and that’s something I’d consider doing as a part-time course.

I want to develop the fish health role here further and the level 4 gives me the background to see where it can go. At some point, I would like to progress into management, whether in a fish health or a production role, preferably within freshwater, which is what I find most interesting.

I’m from Edinburgh but have been in Shetland for three years and love it. I wouldn’t rule out a move elsewhere in the future but I’m keen to stay here for now; there’s quite a lot happening in Shetland.

Looking to progress

Online short courses
Ideal for: those transitioning to a supervisory role

Looking to make the leap from colleague to supervisor or manager? We offer a range of short courses to help make the transition as smooth as possible: from support with prioritising tasks, managing time effectively or help with budgeting and financials, to tips and advice on how to communicate effectively and manage a team.

One to one coaching
Ideal for: those with a specialist role requiring more tailored support

For those employees whose role is highly specialist, or who are looking to progress into one specific area, one-to-one coaching can be a great alternative to general training, with scope to shape content and timescales to an individual’s particular circumstances.

Aspiring senior managers

Management Academy
Ideal for: those seeking to progress to a senior role

New to 2021, our Management Academy brings together development sessions, online courses and videos on a variety of subjects, offering a rounded overview of the specific skills and behaviours needed to be an effective team leader or manager.

Leadership Development Programme
Ideal for: those seeking leadership skills, interested in external training

Run by the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre and consisting of a series of tailored personal development sessions, the Leadership Development Programme combines personal development workshops, one-to-one coaching and special projects to help shape confident, commercially aware future leaders. Interested? You can read more here.

Photo courtesy of the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre

Measuring our progress

Helping make sure all training is as targeted and helpful as possible is our post-training evaluation process.

It gives employees the opportunity to feedback on how effective they found a course to be – from how the training itself was delivered to the learnings being applied in the workplace – enabling us to adjust the content wherever necessary.