Oyster Apprenticeship Academy: Building a new workforce

To coincide with National Apprenticeship Week, Oyster Yachts is formally launching its Oyster Apprenticeship Academy, building on its existing long-established Apprenticeship schemes.

The Apprenticeship Academy will allow Oyster to increase the number of apprentices it hires and adapt the programmes to ensure people have the right skills for the future.

Oyster Yachts has partnered with Southampton City College and Norwich City College, the two colleges closest to Oyster main manufacturing sites in Southampton (Hampshire) and Wroxham (Norfolk).

The Apprenticeship Academy will provide support from initial recruitment and interviewing through to a final graduation for up to 18 Apprentices annually, ten at Oyster Yachts in Wroxham and eight at the company's Southampton facility.

"We are keen to continue to encourage people to join Oyster's team of master craftspeople. We have a team of mentors that works with Apprentices on their professional development, so that they are able to learn from the time-honoured craftspeople that work at Oyster. The training at our Oyster facilities will complement and enhance classroom learning and ensure that skills and knowledge are transferred from classroom theory to manufacturing knowledge. The Academy will also provide support in personal development with additional training to develop core skills," comments Bazil Figura, Training & Development Officer, who is leading the Oyster Apprenticeship Academy.

At the end of each Apprenticeship, the Academy offers a pragmatic plan, where the team at Oyster Yachts will continue to support and work alongside newly qualified Apprentices during their first year of employment.

"Our objective with the Oyster Apprenticeship Academy is simple - as a company we are committed to ensuring that we develop and grow the skills that are inherent in British boatbuilding and in this way, we can ensure that these talents continue for generations to come. I'm passionate about the time-honoured boatbuilding crafts and recognise Oyster's reliance upon them, so sustaining these artisan skills is a priority. Through the Academy, we can encourage young talent into the business and help shape their skills so that sailors will always be able to experience the world's finest bluewater sailing yachts." Richard Hadida, CEO and Owner, Oyster Yachts.

The Oyster Academy currently offers two Marine Apprenticeships: Boat Building and Engineering. The Boat Building Apprenticeship covers all internal and external aspects of boat building, with four days onsite learning with Oyster and one day a week at college. Traditional craftsmanship modules include joinery, laminating and polishing - skills that form the cornerstone of Oyster Yachts quality build.

The Engineering Apprenticeship also includes four days onsite with one day a week at college. This comprehensive Apprenticeship gives hands-on experience in all aspects of engineering, from basic understanding of engineering drawings to the installation of complete fuel systems and the final commissioning process.

"Oyster is a great place for an apprentice. You get the opportunity to work with craftspeople that are life-long boatbuilders, who are really passionate and proud to build Oysters. The old traditional trades and experience are passed down through generations, from one master to the next apprentice - as well as expertise, sometimes even their tools get passed down too," comments Matt Cook, Assistant Joinery Manager at Wroxham.

"Oyster Yachts are built to last a lifetime, and some yachts are even passed on through the generations. We are embracing new ways of working, using machines and techniques to improve the quality of the build and give the craftspeople more time to perfect those finishes only human hands can create. The whole experience and process is a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to join the industry. The Oyster Apprenticeship offering is second to none and we are excited about welcoming the next cohort of Apprentices," he concludes.