Image supplied by the RNLI


Apprenticeships are jobs with structured training which give apprentices a first class foundation to their subsequent career. There are apprenticeships in:

  • inland waterways
  • marinas and boatyards
  • marine pilotage
  • the Merchant Navy
  • port operations (stevedoring)
  • the Royal Navy
  • sea fishing
  • workboats

The MSA has produced a number of short (two page) Briefings with introductory information about apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy. You'll find them all on our Briefings page.

All maritime apprentices are now invited to apply for Student Membership of IMarEST, the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. Full details here.

Apprentices are also entitled to get the NUS (National Union of Students) discount card.

As the number of maritime apprenticeships grows we will provide direct links to the companies which offer those opportunities. In the meantime, the links below are to the colleges and training providers who are currently best-placed to provide more information.

The Institute for Apprenticeships is a Government body in England which is leading the work to improve the quality and take-up of apprenticeships. The information they provide on their website about the range of apprenticeships available is unfortunately misleading because it only refers to new-style 'Standards' and omits all mention of existing apprenticeships (known as 'Frameworks'). The MSA therefore aims to provide information about both here, and we will be enhancing the information available so that companies and others can find everything they want in one place - which you cannot currently do through the IfA.

  • The current Frameworks (ie existing apprenticeships) are detailed separately for England, Scotland and Wales.
  • New Standards (which are for England only; the rest of the UK is not part of this change) are listed here.

Employers can use any of the existing apprenticeships now; you do not need to wait until the new Trailblazer standards are ready.

Trailblazers: Apprenticeships in England are changing, with a number of 'Trailblazer' working groups reviewing existing apprenticeship standards, and considering new options. They are:

Contact Iain Mackinnon for other sectors or for general questions.

Under the heading “Maritime SuperSkills” Liverpool John Moores University has secured funds from the European Social Fund to work up proposals for Higher and Degree level Apprenticeships for the maritime sector. Resulting apprenticeships will, of course, be national in scope, and there is no obligation to use ‘apprentice’ as a job title.

MSA Secretary Iain Mackinnon chairs the project’s Steering Group.

To date LJMU has put in formal Expressions of Interest to establish apprenticeships for Marine Technical Superintendent and Ship Operations Manager. The project team is also exploring further possibilities, including Surveyor, and Port & Coastal Engineer.

Contact: Di Fitch, Project Manager.

The apprenticeship leads the way to the Boatmaster licence, recognised by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (and at Tier 1 Level 2, the top level, covering tidal rivers and 'limited distances to sea').

The National Maritime Training Centre at North Kent College currently supports apprentices on the lower Thames.

Red Ensign Ltd on the Isle of Wight has also supported this apprenticeship for a windfarm employer.

Sea Regs Ltd, based in Plymouth, has also now been approved to support the apprenticeship.

This apprenticeship is not currently available in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. If you would like it to be, please talk to Iain Mackinnon.

Three providers have been approved to support the apprenticeship:

The draft of the replacement Marina and Boatyard apprenticeship is here, with an invitation to have your say.

Associated British Ports on the Humber has launched the country's first marine pilotage apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships for deck ratings and engine room ratings are currently supported by:

The Deck rating apprenticeship Standard, which applies in England - and is formally known as "Able Seafarer (Deck)" - is here, along with the approved Assessment Plan. For Engine Room ratings, the Maritime Trailblazer Group is working with the Royal Navy to design a joint Standard which covers the needs of both and you can see the draft here. In the meantime, you'll find details of the currently approved Engine Room Rating apprenticeship here.

Both deck and engine room ratings apprenticeships are also available in Scotland, and you'll find full details here.

The old Framework-style apprenticeship for Deck Ratings is no longer open for new entrants and has been replaced by the new Able Seafarer (Deck) apprenticeship Standard, linked above.

The Maritime Trailblazer Group has developed a wholly new apprenticeship for catering ratings - formally 'Maritime Caterer' - and is also busy with plans for a further apprenticeship for ratings providing steward services, formally 'onboard services'.

In Scotland the Hospitality Modern Apprenticeship is available "with maritime enhancements" - as piloted by Caledonian MacBrayne in partnership with City of Glasgow College.

For other roles in the Merchant Navy, including cadetships (for trainee officers in deck, engineering and electro-technical roles), see the Careers At Sea website.

Companies cannot use their Apprenticeship Levy funds for cadets because cadetships do not count as a 'statutory apprenticeship'.

For a good introduction to the range of apprenticeships available in the ports sector, have a look at Associated British Ports' apprenticeship video on YouTube.

Contact Colin Bassam at Port Training Services is a good guide to apprenticeship opportunities across the country.

See the Royal Navy's website for comprehensive information about career opportunities. The site also covers the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the civilian body which keeps the Royal Navy supplied.

In Scotland, both the Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead and NAFC Marine Centre in Shetland support sea fishing apprenticeships.

In England, there is currently no apprenticeship (though work continues to re-instate it). Whitby Fishing School runs a year-long programme very similar to the old apprenticeship, based on the Level 2 Diploma in Maritime Studies: Sea Fishing.

You can find more information about other training in the sea fishing sector, including the 3-week Introduction to Commercial Fishing course, here.

54 North Maritime Training Ltd (based in Whitby) currently supports the workboats apprenticeship.

The Workboat apprenticeship has now also been approved for delivery in Scotland and we are working with the National Workboat Association to ensure that an appropriate off-the-job provider is available soon.