Isle of Wight to get maritime boost

Princess Anne has backed a maritime-based youth employment scheme for the Isle of Wight.

Youth training charity UKSA has launched a new bursary as a response to the findings of its successful first youth conference, held in late 2012.
The event, attended by the charity’s patron HRH Princess Royal, highlighted the difficulties faced by many young people in making the transition from school to employment.

And now Princess Anne has given her consent to the scheme being named The UKSA Blue Doublet Bursary named after her beloved Blue Doublet yacht that she and her husband Tim Laurence sailed around UK waters.

Despite being located in one of the wealthiest regions of the UK, the Isle of Wight has areas of severe deprivation, with rising figures for youth unemployment and a culture of generational joblessness. The bursary will initially be open to Isle of Wight residents aged 16-25, who are unemployed, have been on a Change Direction or BTEC programme or provided voluntary work for UKSA. The organisation hopes to roll the bursary scheme out on a national basis.

Covering all UKSA training schemes from starter programmes in watersports, through to career courses in yachting, hospitality and engineering, the bursary will give recipients access to any training for a nominal cost of £25 per day, with the remainder of the course costs met by UKSA and its funders.

UKSA’s Director of Youth Development Simon Davies said the introduction of the bursary is a direct response to a major problem identified by young people attending the conference, namely finding the right opportunities, advice and guidance to help them make the best choice for the future.

He said: “The conference theme of ‘I Am Not A Number’ reflected the disillusionment felt by many young people who find the scarcity of relevant work experience and lack of training a real barrier to employment. This scheme actively addresses the issue, giving access to formal training and qualifications in the maritime sector to young people on the Isle of Wight, where low employment levels create particular difficulties for school and college leavers.”

Following the conference, UKSA has produced a report on the issues raised by the 60 young people who took part. With a focus on solutions as well as problems, the findings of the conference send a clear message to employers about the importance of making work experience more relevant to the real world, using interview and application processes at the outset and providing monitoring and reviews throughout.

Other recommendations included helping young people to use the break between GCSEs and the summer holiday more effectively, through encouraging participation in work experience or volunteering schemes. The importance of positive role models, inspirational speakers, making volunteering ‘cool’, as well as facilitating face-to-face meetings with potential employers, were also highlighted.

Simon added: “The feedback from our conference has inspired us to look at a range of initiatives to help young people represent their issues at the highest possible levels and provide them with exceptional opportunities at a crucial time in their lives.

“The launch of the bursary is an important first step, which we hope will make a difference to the local community on the Isle of Wight, but also has the potential to expand to other locations across the UK, where joblessness is affecting the potential of many young people.