Seacat Services Invest in UK Offshore Training
Offshore energy support vessel operator, Seacat Services, has announced a considerable investment in its unique Maritime Apprenticeship scheme, and has committed to creating further training opportunities with the launch of dedicated Traineeship and Cadetship programs.
These specialist training courses, delivered in conjunction with Red Ensign and HTP Training, will provide an entry point for young UK seafarers into the rapidly developing offshore wind sector.
Following a highly successful intake for the inaugural Seacat Services Maritime Apprenticeship scheme, which began in 2014 with over 200 applications from the local Isle of Wight Community and culminated in the graduation of 12 seafarers in September 2015, Seacat Services has now started the recruitment process for its 2016-17 program.
The renewal of the scheme reflects the growing requirement to establish a steady flow of new homegrown talent into the UK offshore wind industry. An influx of specialist personnel will be critical to realizing the wider economic benefits of marine renewable energy development, fostering a strong domestic supply chain and addressing a skills gap that threatens the world-leading status of the UK market.
Building on lessons learnt during the first year-long Maritime Apprenticeship program, Seacat Services has worked with locally-based training provider Red Ensign and accredited apprenticeship specialist HTP Training to both refine the course and extend the reach of the scheme throughout the country.
New elements of the 2016-17 program include the introduction of a 12-week Traineeship to afford 16 successful candidates the opportunity to gain an early taste of living and working at sea, prior to the commencement of the full 52-week Maritime Apprenticeship course. In addition, shore-based elements of the apprenticeship program taking place at Red Ensign’s dedicated training centre in Cowes have now been significantly enhanced via the acquisition of a specialist training vessel.
The 16-meter catamaran, MSV Explorer, acquired with the aid of funding from the Solent Offshore Renewable Energy Consortium (SOREC), is fitted with the same bridge equipment, crane and bow as an advanced offshore energy support vessel. In combination with 3-week rotations at sea aboard Seacat Services’ operational fleet, this will enable apprentices to maximize hours spent developing specialist on-board technical expertise.
This investment in on-site facilities has been accompanied by a commitment to broaden the scope of the program, both geographically and in terms of the qualifications offered.
Following significant recent charter wins with DONG Energy at the Race Bank and Burbo Bank Extension projects off the East and West Coasts of the UK, Seacat Services will now draw candidates for the program from the vicinity of these projects, in conjunction with the usual intake from the Isle of Wight and the South Coast.
Apprentices who successfully complete the course to achieve their Level 2 Diploma in Maritime Studies may subsequently be eligible for Seacat Services’ unique new Cadetship scheme, a more advanced 2-year course that provides a further opportunity for career progression within the business and sets participants on a track ultimately towards a Masters License.
“Last year’s Maritime Apprenticeship scheme was a huge success and has set a number of really promising candidates on their way to careers in the maritime and offshore energy sectors,” commented Andy Calderbank-Link, Fleet Operations Manager, Seacat Services. “That said, it was only the first small step in an ongoing program of investment into training opportunities for the next generation of offshore energy seafarers.”
“We’re really excited to be able to channel some of the new ideas we’ve developed over the past 18 months into this latest, enhanced iteration of the Maritime Apprenticeship – and take it one step further with the new Traineeship and Cadetship initiatives.”
Andrew Dale, Managing Director, Red Ensign, added: “The training opportunities we’ve developed with Seacat Services to date have already been recognized as some of the most successful in the Merchant Navy industry, and we’re committed to maintaining – and building upon - these standards for many years to come.”
“It’s particularly satisfying to be able to broaden the reach of this year’s schemes across the UK and provide an even greater level of access to opportunities in offshore wind from our training hub on the Isle of Wight.”
Red Ensign and Seacat Services are exhibiting at Seawork 2016 in Southampton this week. On Wednesday evening, George Turpin, a graduate of Seacat Services’ first apprenticeship scheme, will collect the John Percival Memorial Award for outstanding seamanship at the National Workboat Association dinner.