Image courtesy of Associated British Ports


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
  • marine surveyor
  • marine technical superintendent
  • 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. Our Data Review for 2018 summarises the good progress made in increasing the number of apprenticeships on offer, more than doubling between 2014-15 and 2017-18, from 89 to 202.

For a compelling explanation of why one company invests so heavily in apprenticeships, have a look at what one of the founders of Pendennis superyacht shipyard in Falmouth had to say in this presentation in October 2018. A stunning one third of the workforce are apprentices. Why do it? To train for the skills the company needs now; to invest for the future; to get people with the right attitude; to grow future managers.

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.

  • New Standards (which are for England only; the rest of the UK is not part of this change) are listed here.
  • Framework apprenticeships, which are still open for new starters, are detailed separately for England, Scotland and Wales

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

Contact Iain Mackinnon for general questions.

The first degree apprenticeships in the maritime sector are now available: Marine Technical Superintendent and Marine Surveyor. Work is well-advanced on creating a Harbour Master apprenticeship.

These apprenticeships have been developed through its “Maritime SuperSkills” project by Liverpool John Moores University.

LJMU are also exploring the possibility of a Naval Architecture apprenticeship. Contact: Professor Ian Jenkinson.

The apprenticeship leads the way to the national 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 Government offers substantial subsidies to companies which employ apprentices working towards their Boatmaster licence. Details are available from the following three centres, which all support the apprenticeship:

Companies on the lower Thames will find it helpful to talk to the Thames Skills Academy, which supports members who offer apprenticeships.

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:

Detail about the Marina and Boatyard apprenticeship is here. British Marine is investigating what interest there is in creating a Modern Apprenticeship in Scotland. Contact: Aileen Monk, British Marine Scotland.

Have a look also at British Marine's Careers Pages.

A new Marine Pilot apprenticeship is now available, and you can find full details here.

The Government provides substantial subsidies to companies which employ people through recognised apprenticeships. You can find out more through Port Skills and Safety, which helped to create the apprenticeship, and through South Shields Marine School, which provides the 'off-the-job' support.

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

The MNTB's advice and information on ratings apprenticeships is here.

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 has been working with the Royal Navy to design a joint Standard ("Maritime Electrical / Mechanical Mechanic") which covers the needs of both and it is now available for use: you'll find full details here.

Both deck and engine room ratings apprenticeships are also available in Scotland, and you'll find full details here. Neither is currently available in Northern Ireland or Wales; please let Iain Mackinnon know if you would like them to be.

A wholly-new Maritime Caterer apprenticeship is available in England: details here. In Scotland the Hospitality Modern Apprenticeship is available "with maritime enhancements" - as piloted by Caledonian MacBrayne in partnership with City of Glasgow College.

In addition to the Government's subsidy, the Maritime Education Foundation offers companies grants of £4,000 for eligible apprentice ratings following approved deck, engine room and catering apprenticeships. Details here.

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'.

There are apprenticeship routes for Port Operatives in both England (at Level 2) and Scotland (at SCQF Level 5); you'll find full details here: England; Scotland. The apprenticeship is not currently available in either Wales or Northern Ireland; if you would like it to be, please contact Iain Mackinnon.

There is no apprenticeship for supervisors: Port Skills and Safety advise employers to use the generic Team Leader / Supervisor apprenticeship, contextualised for their own working environment. Contact PSS for their advice on which college can support such an arrangement.

There is also, in England only at this stage, a new apprenticeship at Level 4 for Port Marine Operations Officers; full details here.

The Government offers substantial subsidies to employers using recognised apprenticeships. You can find out more from Port Skills and Safety.

For a good introduction to the wide range of apprenticeships available in the ports sector, including many not specific to the maritime industry, have a look at Associated British Ports' apprenticeship video on YouTube.

Have a look also at Port Skills and Safety's Careers Page.

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, NAFC Marine Centre in Shetland supports 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. One large company uses the mainstream Merchant Navy route - which leads to Able Seafarer (Deck) certification from the MCA - taught with suitable additions for their fishing context.

The sea fishing apprenticeship is also not currently available in Wales or Northern Ireland. If you would like it to be, please talk to Iain Mackinnon

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

Detailed information about the Workboat Crewmember apprenticeship varies a little between England and Scotland; you can find full information on these links: England; Scotland.

The Government offers substantial subsidies to companies which employ apprentices in the workboat sector; details are available from the Workboat Association or either of these recognised training providers - 54 North Maritime Training Ltd (based in Whitby), and Red Ensign Ltd (based in Cowes, Isle of Wight) - which provide the 'off-the-job' training to support the apprenticeship. There is, as yet, no approved training provider in Scotland, so we are working with the National Workboat Association to ensure that one is available soon.

Have a look also at the Workboat Association's training page.

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