21-05-2009 : McARTHUR WINS SUPPORT FOR AQUACULTURE TRAINING
Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur, won the support of fellow MSPs for an amendment he successfully moved during the debate on the new Strategic Framework for Scottish aquaculture. Mr McArthur's amendment argued that, in order to attract, retain and develop people for a long-term career in aquaculture, the Scottish Government must ensure that a range of suitable training opportunities are made available.
Moving his amendment, Liam McArthur spoke of the potential for the aquaculture industry to expand to meet the worldwide demand, and he referred to the optimism expressed by the Scottish shellfish and finfish industry representatives he met when he visited the European seafood exposition in Brussels at the end of April. But he said that concerns were also raised about how they could cope with the pressure to expand, access to finance and staff development being particular problems.
He then turned to the subject of his amendment to the Government's motion, which stressed the need for training to attract people to join the industry and to develop the skills of those already working in it to allow them to cope with the challenges the industry faces. He reminded MSPs that, when they debated aquaculture back in November, they supported a Liberal Democrat amendment which encouraged the development and retention of a skilled and qualified workforce in the aquaculture industry. But he also reminded MSPs that the then Minister responsible for aquaculture, Mike Russell, had refused to accept that a training problem even existed. Noting the statement by his successor, Roseanna Cunninghame, when she opened the debate, which stressed the importance of training, he welcomed this sign of the Government's change of heart.
He said, "Given the standards to which we want the industry to aspire, it is self-evident that we must retain and attract skilled workers. Our small and medium-sized enterprises must be supported to create genuine career opportunities. In both instances, qualifications have a vital role to play. It is therefore of concern that the Government is withdrawing funding from over-20s who seek qualifications. In general, the workforce in the Highlands and Islands is older. Training providers and aquaculture companies in the region are worried about the impact that withdrawal of that funding will have on efforts to improve and extend skills."
Liam McArthur ended his speech by noting that "Scotland is the top European Union salmon producer and the third-biggest salmon producer in the world. However, with scale come challenges, not least in controlling disease and managing the impact on the environment. If we are to meet those challenges successfully, the framework will need to be backed by private and public investment. That is the only way of burnishing the industry's reputation."
Full Official Report of the debate can be found on the Scottish Parliament's website at: