Sunday, 12 July 2020


"There's no job like it!"

Fishing is a gateway to a career at sea and offers a wide range of opportunities for those willing to put in the effort and build their skills in the maritime sector. However, the catching sector has an average age of above 50 years old, and with a lack of new entrants coming through the ranks, the recruitment and retention of fishers is now a significant issue. Despite widespread acknowledgement of recruitment challenges, over the last decade there have been minimal changes to the system of employment, education, and mentoring within the sector. 

There remains no clear career pathway for school leavers to enter the industry, fishing opportunities are poorly communicated and industry-focused education programmes are non-existent. The role of a fisher is complex and can require extensive skills and knowledge in vessel navigation, deployment and retrieval of different gears, scientific data collection, boat maintenance, business management, the use of onboard hydraulics and powered machines, sea and weather conditions, and food safety standards. As a highly regulated industry, governed by complex fisheries management, fishers must also keep abreast of local and national legislation and need to know how to adapt to policy changes. 

Industry members have stated that there is now an urgent need to professionalise the entry system to a career in fishing and set out to recruit, train and mentor new entrants to ensure there is a pool of knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced crew to carry the industry forward. 

The Cornish Fish Producers' Organisation (CFPO) is treating this issue as a priority and has started to develop an apprenticeship standard for the fishing industry in conjunction with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. The CFPO are well connected with vessels, ports and processors and can match new entrants with appropriate work, depending on their geographic location, interests, and the type of fishery they would like to become involved with. 

The CFPO and its members have spent the last 6 months leading on the development of a commercial fishing apprenticeship programme. This has led to the creation of a 'Trailblazer Group' that consists of a variety of employers operating within the fishing industry across the UK. The Trailblazer group is now at a point where it is consulting with employers and other relevant organisations who have not been directly involved, in order to seek additional input to the standard. 

The following proposal sets out the occupational profile of a fisherman, as well as the duties, knowledge, skills and behaviours that they will possess. This outline has been developed by a diverse range of stakeholders, including vessel owners, skippers, crew members, CFPO Youth Board members, as well as CFPO staff and wider industry representatives. 

Development of a fishing apprenticeship standard Consultation process As part of developing this standard the Trailblazer group are now sharing the development of the apprenticeship outline for comment from other employers and relevant stakeholders. 

This process will be open until the 3rd July 2020.

If you would like to offer comment, suggestions and input on this proposal then please get in contact with Chris Ranford, via, or 01736 362782