A variety of initiatives, projects, internal policies, and relationships are all contributing to the continued development of a motivated and productive workforce for Marine Harvest Canada.
A current trend has seen Marine Harvest benefit from the recent economic downturn that has hit other sectors of the local economy, said Human Resources Director Ken Crewe. We’re seeing more applications than in the past and the overall quality of applicants has been improving, he said.
“People who might not have considered aquaculture in the past bring a diversity of skills. And younger people are looking to aquaculture for the opportunity it provides to build a long-term career,” said Ken. Lack of previous aquaculture experience does not disqualify candidates. If someone has a positive attitude, is willing to learn, and works well with others, that’s key. The hands-on skills can be taught to people who have the mindset that will make them successful, explained Ken.
Developing and maintaining relationships is also an essential part of a strong human resources department. Our relationship with Vancouver Island University’s Fisheries and Aquaculture program grows every year, commented Ken. Marine Harvest hires summer students and also offers comprehensive site tours to first year students giving them a first-hand look at the opportunities that are available within the industry.
Earlier this year, Kelly Osborne, Production Manager for the Broughton area farms, launched an initiative to hire locally whenever possible – from communities like Port McNeill and Alert Bay. He was successful in hiring 6 full-time and several casual employees from nearby communities and his effort has garnered positive feedback from the Regional District of Mount Waddington. This type of community support for aquaculture is critical for maintaining our social license, said Ken.
Another exciting human resources project that is being launched in November in collaboration with the Kwakiutl Band will provide three months of on-the-job training for three entry-level fish tech positions who will then revert to being casual employees. This formalized agreement is a relatively risk-free way for Band members to learn whether aquaculture is right for them and provides Marine Harvest with a pool of job-ready people who can be called on as needed or fill full-time vacancies as they become available.
On the training front, two new training courses specific to salmon farming were recently introduced in partnership with the Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences (CAHS). These courses will be very beneficial to staff who may not have had previous education in fisheries or biology. It will help provide all production staff have a common knowledge base with respect to salmon farming and supports staff with developing their career within the Company.
Marine Harvest will continue to put a focus on recruiting the right people and helping them to develop. “We put a lot of investment into employee training.” said Ken. “This is something that sets us apart from our competitors and allows us to promote from within whenever possible, giving our staff the opportunity to grow their career with us.”