SEAFISH, the industry authority on seafood, has been given the green light by the government to develop a new Trailblazer apprenticeship for fishermen in England.
A sea fishing apprenticeship has been delivered successfully in Whitby for many years and has proved immensely popular.
Indeed, it is considered the flagship qualification for aspiring young fishermen, and competition for places is tough.
However, the Richard Review in 2013 called for improvements in apprenticeships to better reflect the needs of employers and, as a result, all apprenticeships have to be re-written as Trailblazers by 2017.
The announcement, by skills minister Nick Boles last Thursday, gives Seafish the opportunity to secure the ongoing availability of an apprenticeship for commercial fishermen, helping to safeguard the future viability of the fishing industry.
Seafish will work with fishing vessel owners, skippers and organisations, including the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, all of whom are committed to keeping the apprenticeship route open for new entrants to the fishing industry.
Apprenticeships combine classroom training with on-the-job learning, giving trainees valuable experience and a nationally recognised qualification.
The training covers all the duties expected of a deckhand, including preparing the deck, storage and maintenance of fishing gear, engine room support, handling and stowing the catch, and keeping watch.
Successful trainees must be physically fit, have good eyesight, and be able to communicate well with others.
Simon Potten, head of safety training and services at Seafish, said: ‘We welcome this backing from the minister and are really enthusiastic to re-develop the sea fishing apprenticeship as a Trailblazer.
‘Commercial fishing is a challenging occupation. An apprenticeship provides the best possible route into the fishing industry for new entrants as it combines comprehensive training with work experience.
‘Over a twelve-month period, it produces competent deckhands with transferable maritime skills. Many apprentices go on to develop long and successful careers in the fishing industry.’
Anne Hornigold, chief executive of the Whitby and District Fishing Industry Training School, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see apprenticeships in maritime occupations going from strength to strength.
‘This backing from the government underlines the importance of investing in the future generation of fishermen.
‘The Whitby Fishing School has run a sea fishing apprenticeship for many years and has successfully achieved national recognition for our innovative high quality training methods.
‘It’s exciting to see so many enthusiastic young people coming into the industry and a real pleasure to train them in a number of important roles.’