British sailors have won more than 60 Olympic medals since sailing made its debut at the Olympic Games in 1896, and as we have seen this summer, there’s plenty more gold in the sea.
We can be guilty of forgetting this sometimes, but the UK can still rule the waves. And golden rewards are waiting, not just for Team GB, but for those who want a special and exciting career.
The good news is there are no shortages of opportunities and pathways to get into the marine leisure industry, especially with the recent freeports announcement expected to generate up to 170,000 new jobs in maritime.
Despite what you may have heard about a British shipbuilding decline, we are world leaders in yacht building and design, and still growing strong. Since 2009, our superyacht sector has nearly doubled in size, generating around £1bn in revenue in the last financial year.
And the work is incredibly varied, for building a yacht, or sailing vessels, takes a lot more than you’d expect. Design, management, planning, analysis – all these skills are needed, from different backgrounds, to build a luxurious motor-powered vessel or a boat that sails Team GB to the top of the medals table.
Technical skills are required, with STEM-based A-levels or BTECH equivalent qualifications often serving as a good starting point. But creativity is also valued, with imagination and optimism needed to maintain Britain’s historic, global lead in the sector.
Once these vessels are built, their owners will need the training to use them. This is where the Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) growing army of 24,000 qualified instructors come in, to train and provide licenses for ‘pleasure craft’ users, from powerboat drivers to windsurfers. This could be a tempting opportunity for job switchers who want to trade their office for the sea.
And in marine leisure, there’s a whole host of other industries and jobs out there. Including working at the marinas that look after our country’s yachts and small boats, requiring leadership and people skills to run the maintenance teams and deal with ship owners on a regular basis.
Most of us know about building surveyors in construction, yet few know of the growing ranks of surveyors in maritime, with a very similar skill set, who are providing valuations on vessels of all shapes and sizes, from tugs, trawlers and dredgers to narrowboats and superyachts.
With the summer months upon us, many of us are falling in love with water sports across our shores, rivers and lakes. Whether that’s surfing through Cornwall’s coast, gently paddling across Lake Windermere, or overcoming the rapids of the River Garry. The UK is also home to water sport instructor courses for all of these and more, which could see experienced workers earn more than £50,000 each year.
For our part, Maritime UK is hosting a continuing professional development (CPD) session online for careers advisors, teachers and school liaison officers in November, alongside the RYA, offering guidance to the sector on the varied and exciting careers in water sports.
British Marine, who represent our marine leisure industry, are ambassadors for the FE sector and offer hundreds of apprenticeships for those preparing to leave school or change careers.
And these apprenticeships are in fields as varied as boat building, sewing, textiles, outdoor activity instructing, engineering, HR, sales, marketing and stock management.
So it is no exaggeration to say that the sector can be a home to everyone.
The Olympics are a reminder of how special the UK can be at marine leisure, and our ability to lead the world of maritime. We hope this can inspire young people and job switchers, long after the closing ceremony, about what they can experience, and achieve, in the maritime industry.
By Lorna Wagner, Programme Manager, People & Skills at Maritime UK