The National Workboat Association (NWA), the safety standards, skills, and trade association for the workboat industry, recently announced the Workboat Crewmember Apprenticeship standard has been finalized, paving the way for the program to be rolled out by training providers across England and Wales.

The development of the apprenticeship comes in response to a growing skills and crewing challenge highlighted by NWA members and the wider maritime sector, as experienced seafarers leave the industry, often for retirement, and numbers of young people entering the industry have fallen. It will ensure that young U.K. seafarers benefit from the opportunities being created in the thriving workboat sector — training as the next generation of offshore wind crew transfer, tug, multicat, survey, and fast pilot vessel crew.

The Workboat Crewmember Standard and end-point assessment have already been published, and this month, the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when the Minister for Education confirmed an Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) recommended funding band of £20,000 per Apprentice (aged 24 and younger). This is the most significant funding that has ever been available for training workboat crewmembers.

The Workboat Crewmember Apprenticeship will ensure that young U.K. seafarers benefit from the opportunities being created in the thriving workboat sector. (Courtesy: The Tamarindo Group)

This will mean those companies in England and Wales already paying the Apprenticeship Levy can claim £20,000 funding per apprentice, while smaller companies not paying the levy are entitled to 90 percent.

The 18-24 month apprenticeship, which includes all SCTW Basic Safety Courses and the Navigational Watch Rating, among other qualifications, will equip would-be seafarers with all of the skills necessary to work as a competent deckhand. Combining shore-based instruction with extensive time on board, it will ensure that successful apprentices are well-placed to meet the requirements of a number of highly-specialized maritime sectors.

“Following a lot of work by the Trailblazer Working Group, the NWA Training group and our contacts at the IfA, we’re very pleased that the Apprenticeship is now finalized and — crucially – has secured a good level of funding support,” said Mark Ranson, secretary of the NWA. “This Apprenticeship offers a standardized, high-quality program, endorsed by the NWA, to drive training initiatives for the next generation of workboat crews.”

“It will contribute to a steady influx of trained personnel to support workboat operations in a range of marine industries throughout the U.K. and Europe, such as construction of offshore wind farms, servicing of ports and inland waterways, surveying, towage, and salvage work.”

With the details now in place, training providers including 54 North Maritime and Red Ensign are drawing up plans to run courses for the Apprenticeship over the coming months, with 54 North Maritime were scheduled to start their first intake August 28.