Funding for marine skills

A consortium of UK marine companies, led by south-east based Berthon, has gained £880,000 in funding from the government’s Apprenticeship Expansion Programme to improve skills across the industry.

The funding is expected to support the employment of 60 apprentices over two years and is hoped to reduce costs and improve profitability for businesses in the marine industry supply chain throughout the Solent region.

Keith Longman at Berthon said: ‘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 eight apprentices last year and nine 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 eight 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 shopfloor 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.’

The UK marine industry has a market value of around £62bn and a 3.1 per cent share of the global marine market, worth around £2tn.

Funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the Apprenticeship Expansion Programme trials will provide extra funding to employers who are currently running high-quality apprenticeships. The scheme aims to develop and test apprenticeship models that will allow employers to address the current skills shortage in the industry.

Jonathan Williams, chief executive at Marine South East, said: ‘Skills shortages are becoming ever more critical and forward-thinking companies such as 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.’