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Ruairidh lands a new role after net savings on Aquaculture apprenticeship

#ScotAppWeek24 Apprenticeships

Talented fish farm worker Ruairidh Neilly’s commitment has cut costs and boosted productivity for his employer, inspiring bosses to create a new role just for him when he completed his apprenticeship. 

Ruairidh, 31, had no previous experience when he joined salmon farming company Bakkafrost Scotland in Portavadie, Argyll and Bute, less than five years ago. 

But he quickly built his knowledge and learned a range of new skills after applying for the Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture with UHI Argyll and is now the number one ‘go to’ whenever there is a problem on site. 

Ruairidh’s biggest achievement is the expertise he developed in managing the site’s aeriation system, which is critical to maintaining the correct oxygen levels and high welfare standards. The major repair rate has also decreased thanks to his input, saving the company time and money. 

Notably, Ruairidh took decisive action to safeguard the health of the fish when an issue with harmful numbers of plankton arose.  

He explained: “I used the skills learned on my Modern Apprenticeship to keep calm and work through what needed to be done to resolve the issue.”  

Bakkafrost Scotland Marine Site Manager at Portavadie, Archie Galbraith, said: “Ruairidh plays an integral part in the day-to-day operation of our firm’s marine sites in Loch Fyne, making sure we are meeting the highest standards of fish health and welfare, quality standards and health and safety rules. 

Ruairidh Neilly

He is a dedicated, passionate, skilled worker whose enthusiasm radiates throughout his work. 

Ruairidh’s commitment even inspired his bosses to create a new post – Senior Marine Operative (SMO) in training – as he works towards his Modern Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 7 in Aquaculture through UHI Argyll. 

The dad-of-two, of Kinlochleven in the Highlands, said: “Modern Apprenticeships are a great way to develop your core skills and help move through the ranks of the company that you work for. 

“Being able to work and learn at the same time through my apprenticeship enabled me to support my family while improving my career prospects.” 

Modern Apprenticeships are jobs open to anyone aged 16 and over who wants to work, learn and earn. 

Modern Apprentices spend most of their time learning in the workplace while being supported by a local college or specialist training provider to gain an industry recognised qualification. 

Ruairidh’s dedication has also led to him being a finalist at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards in the Modern Apprentice of the Year Level 5 category sponsored by SQA. 

Archie Galbraith said: “Ruairidh’s commitment to improving work practices, the fact that he is constantly learning and developing new skills, and his desire to succeed makes him an ideal apprentice.” 

UHI Argyll Assessor and Internal Verifier Murray Stark, who nominated Ruairidh for the award said: “Ruairidh puts incredible effort into everything he does, and he has a real passion for the job.” 

Find out more

The winner of the Modern Apprentice of the Year Level 5 category sponosred by SQA will be revealed during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which takes place from 4 to 8 March.

Go to the awards website