Apprenticeship Scheme Initiative

Learn about the Apprentice Scheme Initiative

Apprenticeship Scheme Initiative

The Ark Appeal for encouraging small businesses in the marine sector to train apprentices harks back to the founding principles of our Worshipful Company.

The launch of the Shipwrights Ark Appeal is highly topical given the Coalition Government’s rhetoric on the benefits to society of skills training and apprentice programmes in particular. The Chancellor’s Autumn 2011 statement is to be welcomed since the government is looking to incentivise small businesses through funding to take on apprentices, reminding us that skills training is vitally important for the future well being of the nation. However, small businesses are still daunted by the prospect of entering the training game. Accordingly, the Shipwrights have studied a unique and proven pilot scheme (administered by Berthon), which encourages marine sector businesses to enter the training programme for the first time. The Shipwrights Ark Appeal seeks to underwrite the first year wages (approximately £8500, less any direct Government incentive per student) of a four year course.

The first year is generally cash negative for a business and therefore the funding overcomes the largest hurdle companies face when evaluating the risks associated with taking on youngsters. Furthermore, help is provided with the interview process, wage rates, contractual, administration and mentoring processes, such that by the end of the first year real benefits are seen by the company.

The Shipwrights see this as a long term process, and aim to sponsor a minimum of five new apprentices per annum. Donors and their companies can therefore be sure that a five year rolling commitment will have a real and positive effect; and for larger sums committed, there is also the possibility to dictate geographically where funds are distributed and direct contact with the sponsored apprentice will be encouraged, the idea being to follow his/her progress through to graduation. Please give generously.

In 2009, Lymington based Berthon Boat Co Ltd gained £850K of government funding to run an Apprenticeship Expansion Pilot. Berthon, as lead employer, engaged with Business & Skills competitors and its supply chain to bring a thriving apprenticeship model to 15 businesses (13 new to training) employing 60 new apprentices. National statistics show a graduation rate of 70% whilst Berthon has regular success rates between 90-100%.

Berthon’s commitment to training has gained them two national awards in recent years, recognising not only their scheme but also their tireless effort in raising industry awareness to fill the real problem of the skills gap created by lack of apprenticeship investment and an ageing workforce.

Now government funding has ceased, Berthon has agreed to administer the Shipwrights’ scheme free of charge and to ensure funding is directed primarily to smaller firms in the sector who are not training, offering advice and guidance addressing the perceived problems of hiring and training youngsters with the necessary skills for the future.

The proposal is in keeping with the Shipwrights’ education and charities objectives and that of the Ark Appeal.