More choice for seafarers to gain fishing qualifications

May 5, 2022

The Scottish Maritime Academy, part of North East Scotland College (NESCol), has been approved by the Maritime Coastguard Agency to deliver the Deck Officer (Fishing) Class 1 and Class 2 courses through remote learning in addition to face to face classes. This means that students based throughout the UK can be taught at the same time as those attending the classes on-site in Peterhead.

This hybrid model of delivery is offered for Class 2 Deck Fishing candidates from August this year with the Class 1 course to follow in 2023.

Centre Manager Linda Hope said: ‘We are delighted to be able to give fishermen the choice of both options. This hybrid model ensures that those who cannot relocate to Peterhead for the required 12 weeks will have the same experience as those physically attending classes.

“The remote model of working was piloted first in 2020 following the COVID restrictions. It was a great success with pass rates of 100% for Class 1 and 80% for Class 2 students. Since then we have run four more courses remotely and the success has continued.”

Current Class 2 student Dillon Morrison from Buckie on Atlantic Challenge PD197, said: “Remote delivery has been ideal for me. It’s saved me a lot of money to drive from Buckie to Peterhead and back every day for 12 weeks. This would have been a 3 hour round trip every day and the time saved has given me extra time to study.”

The Scottish Maritime Academy has been able to upgrade one classroom to install technology dedicated to hybrid delivery so that all students whether remote or classroom based can interact with the lecturer, and each other, at the same time. This has been possible through funding awarded to NESCol from the Digital learning Fund, provided by the Scottish Funding Council.

Derek Cardno, Marine Safety Officer at Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said: ‘I am fully supportive of the move to this hybrid model. Remote learning is an amazing tool and what the SMA has done over the last few years is fantastic, but it’s not for everyone. I am very thankful that the SMA appreciate that many still prefer to do their training in person and this option is still available.”

Simon Potten, Head of Safety & Training at Seafish said: “I am in no doubt that remote delivery is the way forward for improving access to fishermen’s training. Whilst those who live locally may still prefer to attend training delivered face-to-face, the additional costs for those from further afield is a significant barrier.

“We may not see a substantive increase in the >16.5m fleet anytime soon, but with an ageing workforce the fishing industry requires a steady supply of certificated deck officers. I believe more young, ambitious fishermen will take up this training if you continue to offer a remote delivery option.”