AROUND 60 per cent of the workforce at Marine Harvest’s new feed plant on Skye have been recruited locally, according to the company.
Some 37 out of a total of 53 positions have now been filled and another six staff are due to join the team at Kyleakin before the end of the year.
While employees represent seven different countries, including India and Italy, the majority hail from Skye and across the Highlands, according to site manager Kevin O’Leary, quoted in the company’s newsletter, published for the first time last week.
‘The feed plant offers excellent career opportunities for our employees and has even made it possible for some to return to the area to raise their families,’ said O’Leary.
‘The state of the art technology has also proved a real draw for staff with specialist skills and knowledge in engineering, finance, feed and safety management from across the globe.
‘There is a real sense of pride and anticipation now on Skye as we gear up to opening in 2019.’
Construction is nearing completion and, once operational, the plant will ship feed directly from Kyleakin by boat to the company’s farms in Scotland, Ireland, Norway and the Faroe Islands.
Marine Harvest is investing £225,000 in the new team’s training scheme, which is now underway. The company’s overall wage bill in Scotland exceeds £47 million, said managing director Ben Hadfield.
‘The salmon farming sector pays significantly above other sectors in Scotland because it is a successful and highly technical business,’ he wrote in the newsletter, titled The Scoop.
Hadfield admitted that salmon farmers are ‘guilty of not communicating’ their successes, something the new publication will hope to address.
‘At the time of writing, we are still awaiting the parliamentary report by the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee on Scottish salmon farming,’ he said.
‘In our verbal submissions to the committee, Marine Harvest has been very open about its farming challenges and our rapid response to addressing them.
‘It can be disappointing that our massive successes – social, environmental and economic – are typically buried behind the gloomy headlines.
‘Whatever the committee concludes, there is no doubt the aquaculture industry, possibly more than any other, provides interesting, well paid and varied employment for thousands of people across rural Scotland.
‘Would I want my children to enter this business, remain in the Highlands and build long-lasting careers in salmon farming? Absolutely!’
Picture: The Kyleakin feed plant nears completion (photo Marine Harvest)