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As the trade association for the leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry in the UK, British Marine has over 1,500 members from an extensive variety of businesses, including boat building, passenger boats, engine manufacturing, marinas, brokers, chandlers and more. Its overarching mission is to deliver excellence to its members and, in turn, the boating community as a whole.

In 2016, British Marine approached Semta after several concerns becoming apparent. Both members and non-members were expressing concern over the lack of skilled workforce and available training in Scotland for the boating industry, particularly the boatbuilding sector. An additional concern was around the ageing current workforce and the number of employees nearing retirement.

The size of the industry was a contributory factor, given that there are only approximately 2,000 employees across 300 companies in Scotland. These are geographically very distributed, making it problematic to ensure all areas have enough skills. It also makes it difficult to create a hub for training purposes. Ultimately, these issues have culminated in a skills shortage in the Scottish boat building sector.

British Marine approached Semta for advice and input as to how to tackle the situation and Robert Bruce, Sector Development Specialist at Semta, attended the initial stakeholder meeting at Skills Development Scotland in Glasgow, along with other industry and stakeholder representatives, namely the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

The meeting served to establish the level and type of requirements and the scope of work. Keen to contribute to finding the right solutions for the industry, several British Marine members came forward as willing to devote time to working with Semta and SQA.

Over the following 18 months, Semta provided the advice that was needed, developed a Modern Apprenticeship Framework pathway and collaborated with training providers such as City of Glasgow College and Argyll College. The knowledge and experience offered were central to prioritising the inclusion of the correct units, as well as the mandatory and optional modules that were to be included. Semta was also key to leading the process through initial approval with SQA and final approval with Skills Development Scotland.

The partnership approach between Semta and British Marine, along with the support of key stakeholders and employers, was indispensable in ensuring that British Marine members, as well as industry employers in general, believed in the solutions being put forward.

By working with British Marine, colleges and representatives of the marine industry over the past three years, Semta has now developed a new Modern Apprenticeship in Boat Building and Repair, which is tailored to Scotland by including the Repair element that isn’t present in the England version. The creation of this qualification was essential to access funding from Skills Development Scotland for training to assist employers in recruiting and training new entrants to the workforce and the sector. Launched in March 2019, all concerned are working towards the Modern Apprenticeship being delivered to the first cohort of future engineers in at least one college this year.

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