Partners looking at marine sector skills

PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 June 2014

Marine East delegates, Gary Williams front left, with French visitors

Marine East delegates, Gary Williams front left, with French visitors


Partners in a £2.5m EU-funded project to improve training and skills in the marine sector took part in two days of seminars in Norwich to discuss progress.

The event at Carrow Abbey conference centre was a chance for Marine East, the industry body delivering the project across our region, to swap notes with partners from the French Channel ports and Cornwall.

The aim of the project – Channel Marine Academy – is to identify career pathways and the skills required to achieve these in the marine and offshore wind sectors.

Marine East director Gary Williams said: “In the first 18 months we have been carrying out research and surveying businesses, talking to training providers and talking to operators to find out where they are with the skills requirements. In a diverse sector we have been trying to understand what the industry requires.”

While larger businesses were capable of sorting out their own training needs, taking on apprentices was a “complex minefield” for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), he said.

“We are trying to address all these issues with different colleges and different training providers,” he said.

As part of its work, Marine East is delivering an apprenticeship training agency contract in the Eastern region on behalf of its long-term partner, Cornwall Marine Network, which secured the government funding for it.

Targeting SMEs, largely but not exclusively in the marine sector, Marine East aims to cut through red tape at every stage, from sourcing government funding to recruiting and employing apprentices on behalf of firms.

“The company just has to pay the apprentice’s wages and a £10-a-week admin fee,” said Mr Williams.

Mr Williams, who will be in Southampton today as part of a Marine East delegation at the Seawork International boat show, said working with partners helped build the big picture.

“Across the partners’ areas there are all aspects of the marine sector, from leisure activities to shipbuilding, inland waterways to offshore wind, and our aim of mapping careers and transferable skills makes this a very worthwhile project,” he said.

Speakers at the Carrow Abbey event included David Dukes, Norfolk County Council’s economic development manager, who voiced his support for Marine East and the importance of working to improve the sector by addressing skills and training.

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