Huge boost for apprentice shipwrights

The Government’s Apprenticeship Expansion Programme to improve skills across the marine industry will support the employment of 60 apprentices over a two year period, with a total value of £880,000.

The investment will be used to pay the wages of apprentices and support their specific training needs, reducing costs for local businesses and assisting profitability. It represents a major boost for skills and employment in the Solent region, and to encourage wider participation there are currently a limited number of unallocated apprenticeship places available to local marine supplier companies.  These places will ensure that apprentice support is available to companies throughout the marine supply chain.

Keith Longman at Berthon commented:  “Renewed Government support for skills based careers has given impetus to a higher perception of apprenticeship schemes to both youngsters and their parents. We are committed to producing a strong local skill base and our hard work is paying off; we took on 8 apprentices last year and 9 this year, with the average age over 18 with one aged 25. Our total apprentice count currently stands at 23 and we have committed to taking on a further 8 this summer.

“We have been training apprentices since  Berthon was founded more than 100 years ago. More than half of the 70 people on our shop floor have come to us through our apprenticeship scheme as well as around half of our boatyard management team. Youngsters today realise that there are real career progression opportunities.”

With a market value of nearly £62bn, the UK marine industry has a 3.1% share of the global marine market worth around £2 trillion.  The South East marine industry includes some of the most innovative and high-tech companies, with a reputation for excellence and contributing skilled marine workers around the globe. The industry’s commitment to training is now being recognised with inclusion in this pilot Government programme.

The Apprenticeship Expansion Programme trials, which are being funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), will provide extra funding to employers who are currently running high quality apprenticeships. It aims to develop and test models which will allow employers to recruit and train additional apprentices in companies that are at the forefront of their industry.  This will give them the appropriate skills to secure employment in the supply chain or elsewhere in the wider sector.

Jonathan Williams, Marine South East Chief Executive commented:  “Skills shortages are becoming ever more critical and forward thinking companies like Berthon are investing now to ensure that they have a highly skilled and competitive workforce ready in the future.  This trial will help companies that already have a high quality apprenticeship scheme continue training young people through the difficult economic conditions we now face.”

Sarah Dhanda, Director of Business Development at the British Marine Federation added:

“The British Marine Federation strongly welcomes this timely boost for skills and jobs in the Solent area and is proud to have been part of the successful bid process. Marine businesses are facing a tough environment, but this investment will help retain highly skilled manufacturing jobs and help UK firms compete with the best.”

Other companies taking part in the trial include: Southampton Yacht Services, and Discovery Yachts.