In this month’s Member Profile, Anne Hornigold MBE, Chief Executive of 54 North Maritime Training, talks to us about the maritime training facility’s work with the NWA on developing workboat apprenticeship schemes, the trends currently being experienced in the sector and the opportunities that are brought about by attending industry events.
Where did your Maritime career start?
My husband and I are sailors – we have a boat and have done long sailing holidays as well as day sailing. Previously my husband has been a member of the RNLI and a local a coastguard volunteer which has resulted in our having a good knowledge of the east coast.
I used to work for the local Business Development Agency – and was approached by Lockers Trawlers and the Seaman’s Mission to set up the training centre. As I already had a background in maritime, I dropped into it by default and have actually thoroughly enjoyed working in the Maritime industry since.
I don’t get a chance to go off sailing much now, but I do understand what the apprentices in the training centre are learning, which always helps!
Could you give us an overview of 54 North Maritime Training?
54 North Maritime is an offshoot of a parent company Whitby Fishing School. The company opened in 2002 to deliver safety qualifications to fishermen and Apprenticeships in Sea Fishing.
The National Workboat Association (NWA) contacted us a few years ago and asked if we would consider delivering the workboat apprenticeship, and of course we said yes, as at the time, the workboat apprenticeship was very similar to the fishing apprenticeship. We started to deliver the workboat apprenticeship 4-5 years ago now, and it’s been very successful.
Is that where your relationship with the NWA started?
That was the start of our work with the association yes, then after 18 months to 2 years we became members.
We’ve actually worked with the NWA over the last 2-3 years to produce the new Standard for the workboat apprenticeship and are thoroughly enjoying working with them.
We took on a further cohort in August this year and they’re the first apprentices to enrol onto the new Standard which has been accredited to level three. Overall, our achievement for this training is a 100% success rate for the trainees coming through the course, which we’re really pleased with.
I really enjoy our membership with the NWA, it keeps 54 North visible to the other member companies and we enjoy attending a number of industry functions which also keeps us astride of working trends and requirements. I attend as many functions as I can to do with the NWA, including their AGM each January which is great to touch base with many colleagues.
Are there any other industry events that you go to with 54 North Maritime Training?
We always go to the Seawork Exhibition in Southampton each summer which gives us a marvellous opportunity to meet with other workboat companies and advise them of our training services. We started going to Seawork in 2014, and in 2015, I was recognised for my services to maritime training and was nominated and was successful in being awarded the Maritime Professional of the Year Award. At the same time, the company also achieved the Spirit of Innovation Award for Safety and Training.
Thank you, it was some time ago now, and it was because we’d assisted the NWA and the Maritime Skills Alliance with the start of the delivery of the workboat apprenticeship framework, when no other training providers were doing this and that’s where the innovation came in.
Are there any particular trends in workboats to look out for in the coming year or so?
It’s a lot to do with windfarms now and with Dogger Bank wind farm due to come on stream in the future and more to come after that, we’re expecting there will be a lot more trained crews needed to support the market. We’re trying to encourage the workboat employers to take apprentices on with an eye to the future growth of their companies.
We take on apprentices for any vessel operators and a variety of different workboat disciplines, but expect the offshore wind sector will get busier.
Aside from winning awards, what does your role at 54 North Maritime Training involve?
On a day-to-day basis, I monitor our various contracts and liaise regularly with the staff of workboat employers who are utilising our training services. We regularly plan far ahead and have already planned up to the end of next summer.
At any time we might have 3 to 4 different training classes on going so the building gets rather busy, especially at this time of year. From October right through to Easter we have classes running. We feel that once the weather deteriorates the apprentices might as well be attending classroom training and accrue their sea-time during the summer months.
What is your view on the workboat market currently?
It will, for sure, start to get busier soon. Things might take off rapidly, but it’s hard to predict.
Now that the new Apprenticeship Standard is available, and the new employer levy system is in place, there are opportunities for all workboat companies to benefit. Those companies who are paying the levy have their apprentices trained for free, drawing down on the levy they have already paid. Those companies who are not levy-paying can also benefit – it costs these workboat companies a lot less than they think – they only pay 10% of cost so it’s really worth looking into. Some smaller, non-levy paying companies don’t recognise the 90% funding they’ll get from the government and sometimes think they can’t afford it. We’re working hard to help them realise that they can.
One of the main advantages workboat employers will find is that of when training a brand-new apprentice, they can be moulded to the skills and practices of their company and can avoid taking on crew who have brought bad habits with them.
What sort of investment do you think 54 North Maritime will be looking at in the future?
The company is currently looking to further develop our advanced safety courses, including, soon, AEC2 and vessel stability. Of course, if we spot an opportunity to deliver further industry courses we’ll be going for it. We are happy to develop bespoke training packages for any company who need it.
What would you say is one of your highlights of working at 54 North Maritime Training?
One of the things I really enjoy is that we hold an Annual General Meeting and Awards Ceremony each year. It’s a great occasion. We have traditionally had an Apprentice of the Year Award for Sea Fishing but now of course, we have an Apprentice of the Year for Workboats. We look back at who has done well with both their academic and practical training and has achieved their apprenticeship during the past year. It’s a very happy occasion and there are colleagues from all over the UK who attend. There’s lots of prize giving and cheering, and we all go off for a late lunch afterwards. Lunch is of course, fish and chips because we’re in Whitby! We always ensure the current cohort of apprentices attend so that they can see last year’s apprentices win their awards. This motivates them with a bit of healthy rivalry to do the best they can throughout their course with the aim of achieving the award for themselves.
What do you value most about your NWA membership?
Being an NWA member and attending industry events with the association allows us to support other members who might need training advice. Over the years, we have built up a good relationship with many workboat companies, who, now that they know of us, contact us for any advice and support they need regarding training matters.
In a similar way, the association offers us really helpful advice and opportunities to develop connections, which we really value.
To find out more, visit the website 54 North Maritime website.