Blog: We’re on a careers mission … and it’s gathering pace

By: Lorna Wagner

Programme Manager
lwagner@maritimeuk.org

Who was the key person who gave you their support as you embarked on a career in the maritime sector? When we asked current and former apprentices across the maritime sector, not one of them replied ‘my careers advisor’!

That certainly confirms the need for us to keep on explaining maritime – not only to careers professionals but also to the wider world. These respondents mentioned their parents, their next-door neighbour, someone their mum knew in the Royal Navy, other family members and partners when thinking about who helped them to get inspired and keep studying.

One young man working for a boatbuilder talked about his foreman who, in the truest sense of an apprenticeship, was passing on information and advice and always had the time to answer questions and help him with college work.

Talking to current and recently qualified apprentices, and people who started out as apprentices, has been a real lightbulb moment for Maritime UK. We used these interviews to put together a series of interview case studies based on a few quickfire questions – asking about what drew them to maritime, how they got started, and their career goal and/or highlight. And, of course, that question about support.

In National Apprenticeship Week in February, each interview was with an individual –a current or recently qualified apprentice, or a senior post holder who started their career as an apprentice.

We soon realised there would be value in comparing two people’s careers stories –so for National Careers Week in March, we also recorded a number of interviews as a three-way conversation between me and two people from the same organisation who are in different roles and different levels of seniority.

Interesting, inspiring, challenging and surprising, these conversations have been complemented by a series of discussions about how employers can engage in careers education in schools and colleges.  

The learning never stops – and I’m referring to myself! As we continue to push forward with new activities and projects to raise awareness of the career opportunities in the maritime industry, I meet young people who provide inspiration and new insights into their own career paths and achievements.

There was no suggestion of Covid-19 getting in the way as we worked to raise the profile of Maritime UK at National Apprenticeship Week and National Careers Week. We are no longer ‘getting used to’ the online way of meeting and sharing experiences – we are positively making the most of it!

Among other highlights of National Apprenticeship Week, we ran an employers’ apprenticeship insight event, to raise awareness among employers who have never offered apprenticeships and also update those had have taken on apprentices in the past. We also supported a labour market information event in East Riding, directly responding to a request from the LEP.

During National Careers Week, we held our first public-facing careers event. Hosted out of the South West, its was supported by the University of Plymouth, Plymouth City College, Babcock International and Princess Yachts. We also had strong support from Jobcentre Plus, which listed the event on its national resource database so that work coaches all over the UK could attend or encourage their clients to do so. A good deal of work was involved pulling this together; we will definitely run this type of event again, because we need to talk to the public and parents of young people about the sector.

We also held our first big careers event in Scotland, with a direct follow-up on the Maritime UK awards; participants were the Port of Cromarty Firth, which received two awards, Business of the Year and Coastal Powerhouse, along with the Global Energy Group, Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) and Skills Development Scotland.

The Port of Cromarty Firth was keen to work with us and explain how its longstanding role of supplying and supporting the oil & gas industry is shifting towards working with the offshore windfarm sector. A nice link to Green Maritime and clean energy!

Elsewhere, I presented webinars aimed at students as part of National Careers Week – two in Hampshire, one in Norfolk and one in South Essex, working with colleges. These attracted excellent numbers of students – just one was attended by 84 students, so there was very good interaction.

Looking ahead, we are making plans for World Oceans Day on 8 June. This will include focus on Clean Maritime, decarbonisation and jobs in maritime that are linked to the natural sciences.

London International Shipping Week is on the calendar in September and we hope to be running some actual face-to-face events during the week. Networking, online live lessons beamed into schools and the first Maritime UK apprenticeship awards are all on the agenda. We are working towards a school age careers event that will be both physical and virtual; if all goes to plan, this will involve schoolchildren being able to visit a ship on the Thames.

There are also plans for a similar event for adult jobseekers, during which we will hear the stories of people who have moved into maritime in the past 12 months.

The message is clear: maritime is open for business! If you are looking for a career shift or new challenge, come and talk to us. Equally, we are looking to recruit more Industry Ambassadors and Careers Campaign Partners to help us in our mission. Maritime UK is keen to provide support for careers activities across the sector and we would be delighted to hear from you.