Mersey Maritime bangs the drum for apprenticeships

As National Apprenticeships Week gets under way industry body Mersey Maritime says apprenticeships are a fantastic way of increasing the productivity of your business. Tony McDonough reports

Mersey Maritime
Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke with apprentice Abbie Milne


Industry body Mersey Maritime is urging businesses across Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime sector to use apprenticeships to turbo-charge their businesses.

This week is National Apprenticeships Week and Mersey Maritime wants to get the message out to its members and beyond that training and upskilling is the key to accelerating productivity and profitability.

In a study, the Open University found skills shortages were costing UK businesses £6.33bn a year in lost productivity. Despite this, many business often find the training landscape confusing, believing the process to be time-consuming and costly.

Mersey Maritime says there are myths around apprenticeships which they are keen to dispel. Probably the biggest one is that apprenticeships are only for school-leavers and entry-level positions. This is not the case.

Apprenticeships can be suitable for much more senior roles and can be for new recruits or existing staff. Candidates must be aged at least 16 but there is no upper age limit on who can be an apprentice.

All employers can access a minimum of 95% Government funding for apprenticeships. Apprenticeship Levy employers, those with a wage bill in excess of £3m, will look to reinvest this funding back into their business in the form of apprenticeship training.

Other funding routes include Adult Skills under the Adult Education Budget and levy-payers can also transfer up to 25% of their levy to other employers within their supply chain.

Liverpool city region’s maritime sector comprises more than 30 sub-sectors, including shipping, engineering, manufacturing, digital, recruitment, training and professional services. If businesses are to keep growing then a steady supply of skilled workers is essential.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “A highly-motivated and skilled workforce will be critical as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and look to grow our economy to take advantage of new opportunities.

“At Mersey Maritime, skills are always high on our agenda. It is why we are spearheading the creation of the £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub in Wirral’s docklands. This will offer the world class skills we will need as an industry in the coming decades.

“Too often companies fill their skills gaps with temporary appointments, paying over the odds to make sure they have the skills they need. By investing in their own skilled workforce they can future-proof their businesses. We can attest to the value of apprenticeships right here in our own organisation.

In late 2020, Mersey Maritime took on an apprentice, Abbie Milne, to focus on its digital and events activity. Whilst leading on this area for the organisation, Abbie, who started her career in maritime with Peel Ports Group, continues to work towards her Level 3 Digital Marketing qualification at Riverside College and is bringing her specialist skills to enhance this key focus for the work of Mersey Maritime. Commenting, Abbie said:

“I am really enjoying working for Mersey Maritime as its new Digital and Events Apprentice. I have a strong passion for the maritime sector, from my previous work at the Port of Liverpool, and I’m finding it very interesting engaging with the range of Mersey Maritime members which reveals its real depth in representing all sectors within the industry.”

In a boost to the professionalism and capability of Abbie’s work, Maritime Digital Hub, an executive partner of Mersey Maritime, have kindly sponsored some top of the range IT equipment to back both her activities and the principle of investment in apprenticeships. Rosy Staines, Head of Engagement, said:

“We were thrilled to have the chance to get on board with Mersey Maritime to support Abbie’s work. With our specialism in the digital arena, this was an ideal project for us to get behind, particularly as it means supporting a young person starting out in their career. The practical apprenticeship route is a fantastic way to help realise career ambitions and it is our pleasure to be associated with Mersey Maritime’s activity in this area.”

Mersey Maritime is also partnering with Maritime UK on Thursday, February 11 to host an online event to inform employers about apprenticeships in the sector. Click here to find out more:

There is other support for training and apprenticeships within Merseyside. Free and impartial advice is available via the Liverpool City Region Skills Brokerage Service, part of Growth Platform, the city region’s growth company. This comprises an expert team of skills brokers who can save businesses, large and small, time and money.

The Skills Brokerage service also serves as a one-stop-shop where businesses can be directed to other areas of support, assistance and funding. It can also assist employers to access up to 70% of the funding they need towards the cost of training.

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