Highland pupils cast off on new maritime skills course

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Twelve senior pupils start a new course in maritime skills in Portree this week from six Highland secondary schools.

From Monday 3 October an SQA Skills for Work Maritime Skills Course is being offered on the curriculum to S5 and S6 pupils.  The pupils who applied are from Ardnamurchan, Mallaig, Portree, Ullapool, Kinlochbervie and Kilchuimen High Schools will undertake a 3-week residential course at Portree High School.

Recently welcomed by members of The Highland Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee meeting on 15 September, this initiative, promoted through the Council’s Skill for Life and Work team, aims to offer serious motivation and detailed grounding upon all aspects of maritime skills and seamanship disciplines to those pupils enthusiastic to pursue the growing entrepreneurial/employment opportunities

Pupils that successfully complete the year’s course will gain industry-wide recognised qualifications. The course will equip young Highlanders with immediate employment advantages and enable them to pursue opportunities within the maritime sector, including; Royal Navy, Merchant Marine, commercial fishing, marine sport and leisure, marine engineering and communications.

The Fish Industry Training Association (Highlands and Islands) Ltd (FITA) in partnership with The Highland Council will deliver the inaugural course which is based inPortreeHigh Schoolon the Isle of Skye.

The course comprises three residential block-weeks of practical learning coupled to continuing study periods throughout the academic year. Pupils will receive training in all aspects of boat safety, sea survival techniques, maritime communication, commercial fishing skills, an introduction to navigation, basic marine engineering, first-aid, fire-fighting and fire-prevention disciplines, and sea-food hygiene measures.

Highland Councillor John Laing for the Eilean a’ Cheò Ward commended the introduction of the new SQA Maritime Skills Course and its successful inclusion within theHighlandschools’ Higher Education curriculum. He said: “The initial proposal for the course came fromNeil Robertson, parent of aPortreeHighSchoolpupil, whose son was keen to follow a career in fishing. Following his initial enquiry in March this year, the Council’s Education Service acted swiftly to make his idea a reality and the course starts this month.”

Parent, Neil Robertson, who is also Executive Committee member of the Scottish Government’sNorth West, and Small Isles and Mull Inshore Fisheries Groups said: “The enthusiasm with which my initial enquiry was received was extremely welcoming. Meetings with the Council’s Education Service and F.I.T.A. saw the course take shape. A joint funding agreement for the inaugural course was split between Highland Council’s ‘Skills for Work’ programme and F.I.T.A.”

John Hermse, Chairman of FITA said: “We are delighted that this course is being offered in theHighlandsarea and this has been one of our long term objectives. There is a strong affinity with fishing and the sea throughout the West and at long last there’s a chance for youngsters to attend a course with recognised qualifications for a future career path. Maxine Garson and The Highland Council should be commended for taking the initiative to achieve this end result. Let’s hope there will be many such courses to follow.”

Pupils thinking of following a maritime career and who are interested in the Skills for Work Maritime Skills Course SQA should contact: Maxine Garson, School Liaison Officer, Skills for Work 07919 691422 for further information.



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