The first group of young seafarers has graduated from Seacat Services’ Maritime Apprenticeship programme. The successful graduates have taken the first step towards long-term careers in the offshore energy sector and will now discuss future career opportunities with Seacat Services.
The year-long apprenticeship programme, which was introduced last year and is set to continue with a fresh 2015/16 intake, seeks to address a skills shortage in UK offshore renewables and buck a trend that has seen overseas developers and contractors dominate in many key areas of the domestic industry.
The programme trains seafarers for Seacat Services’ expanding fleet of ten 21 – 26m Offshore Energy Support Vessels that work primarily between the East Coast of the UK, Germany, Holland and Denmark.
This year’s scheme saw 200 applicants from the local community on the Isle of Wight. The success of the Seacat Services apprenticeship programme is an illustration of the strength of the offshore wind supply chain that has been built in the region, the company said. Despite the recent refusal of the Navitus Bay offshore wind farm, the island is well positioned to meet the demands of servicing the UK and wider European markets.
The graduates started the programme in September 2014, working towards a Level 2 Diploma in Maritime Studies, and have now achieved the qualification after significant training and sea time. The 52-week programme was delivered through Red Ensign and supported by apprenticeship specialist HTP Training.
Shore-based elements of the apprenticeship training took place at Red Ensign’s dedicated maritime training centre in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. During the workplace phase of the training, apprentice deckhands were accommodated on the vessels under the mentorship of the vessel’s Master and Mate, in rotations of 3 weeks at sea.
Ian Baylis, Managing Director at Seacat Services, said: “Addressing the skills shortage in our constantly expanding sector is something everyone in the industry is responsible for. We’re delighted that these young people have performed so well and we are very pleased to be able to discuss further opportunities with them. As the wind sector matures, it’s creating more and more openings for long and successful careers. We are very much looking forward to watching this next generation of seafarers flourish.”
Andrew Dale, Red Ensign’s Managing Director, said: “I strongly believe that apprenticeships are the way forward for the merchant shipping industry and its wonderful to see our collaboration with Seacat Services come to fruition. The success of this first group of apprentices should pave the way for many more young people to be introduced to this exciting industry.”
“We look forward to working with Seacat Services once again, with the next round of apprenticeships on the horizon.”
George Turpin, one of the apprentices graduating today said: “This was an incredible opportunity to get hands-on experience of a sector I’d always been interested in but didn’t know the way into. We got so much support from the seafarers around us and the support team offshore and we’ve developed some great relationships as a result.”
In January, Seacat Services will be launching a cadetship scheme to run in conjunction with the apprenticeship programme. The cadetship provides a further opportunity for career progression within the growing firm and will propel ambitious participants towards their Masters License.
Image: South Boats IOW/Illustration