Are you someone who thinks that the Seafood Industry is only about boats, fish catches and a life on the ocean wave? Well, think again. The modern Seafood Industry includes a wide range of specialisations and career opportunities to suit every skill set.
The basic requirements are QQI certificates in commercial fishing, aquaculture or seafood processing. BIM Safety Card, and the BIM Passenger Boat Card are extremely popular and offer dual certification. These are accredited by QQI at Level 5 and approved by the Irish Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The Irish Seafood industry is currently valued at 1.1bn euro and employs 11,000 people, mainly in coastal counties from Donegal to Louth.
Many of those involved in fishing and aquaculture have the entrepreneurial drive to develop and manage their own businesses, be it trawler, fish-farm processing business or retail unit.
Nichola O'Higgins owns and runs a fish shop in Wicklow with her Husband, who is also a Chef. The job entails sourcing the best supply of fish, presenting it in the most attractive manner, providing advice to her customers on how to cook it, marketing their services, keeping the accounts in order and maintaining the highest levels of hygiene at all times.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Since leaving school I have worked in sales, credit management for a plc and now have my own fish shop. Every job I had I worked hard at and was in the right place at the right time with every advancement.
This was somewhat due to luck and my strong desire to be the best and earn more money. My life experiences shaped my every move as I had a small child and had to earn money to live.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
How did you go about getting your current job?
Describe a typical day?
My husband goes to the market very early to get the fish and I bring the children to school and creche and go to the shop for 9.15am. Then I set up the counter with the fresh fish. It is hard to be creative and also set up as quickly as you can.
The day starts. I serve customers and fill in details of the fish for traceability. The customers are the biggest bonus to my day. You keep the counter looking good with your product topped up with ice and make sure everything is super clean. You can never have any bad smell in such a small shop. So hygiene is a big thing.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Your main duty is to be very comfortable with the product and the customer you are selling to - this is key.
So giving ideas on how to cook is a big thing along with information on where it is from and constant attention to hygiene. I am constantly thinking of new ideas for the shop and marketing fish in the area. Sourcing a constant supply of fish with the best quality is a daily task.
Keeping the accounts for the business in order is also a daily task.
What are the main challenges?
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
I left school before my Leaving Certificate, which I would not advise. I worked hard at everything I did and constantly tried to up my game.
I would advise to never take no for an answer, to get your foot in the door and work your way to where you want to go. My son is now twenty and is in college and he got great advice from career guidance in school.
What is your education to date?
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
I was delighted to be offered the position of Credit Manager in a plc and I learnt from that that anything you want to do is possible if you work hard enough.
Now I am very proud to be known for the fish shop we run in a small town where we love to live and work. It is great to part of the community in this way.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?