Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Seafish seeks feedback on major changes to fishing deckhand apprenticeship programme in England

"The changes we are looking to make will make the course even more relevant to the needs of the industry."

Seafish is urging fishermen's associations, vessel owners, skippers and fishermen to share their views on proposed changes to its Sea Fishing Apprenticeship programme as part of a wider drive to boost recruitment and raise standards across the fishing industry.

The Apprenticeship, which has been in existence since the mid-1990s, teaches new entrants the key knowledge and skills required for working as a deckhand on a commercial fishing vessel, before giving them the opportunity to hone their skills at sea and demonstrate their competence.

The year-long programme currently focuses on six key elements: assembling, operating and maintaining fishing gear; receiving, handling, and stowing the catch; operation and maintenance of the deck and specialist machinery; assisting with steering, lookout and navigation; mooring and anchoring; and cooking for the crew.

Seafish's fishermen's training team has already identified a number of additional topics that might usefully be added to the programme following consultation with a small working group of industry representatives. These include: responsible fishing; fisheries science and management; environmental awareness; business skills; seafood market and supply chain. These additional elements will undoubtedly add value to the current course's programme, but Seafish is eager to receive suggestions of any additional topics that should be included.

Kevin Franklin, Fishermen's Training Manager at Seafish, said: "Commercial fishing is a challenging job. For anyone considering a career in the fishing industry the Sea Fishing Apprenticeship programme provides the best possible introduction. To ensure the Apprenticeship is fit for purpose, we need skippers to tell us what skills, knowledge and behaviours they require from competent deckhands. The changes we are looking to make will make the course even more relevant to the needs of the industry."

He added: "We have already spent a lot of time planning the structure of the new programme and we are looking for any suggestions or feedback during this crucial development stage. I would welcome comments on the current units and whether they encompass the role of a deckhand. I would also like feedback on the additional suggested elements and whether there is anything further that should be included. We will also be seeking to work with a range of training providers to ensure they understand the programme requirements and are ready to deliver the training elements to enable apprentices to meet the standard."

The opportunity for making these changes has arisen following the need to meet new Government requirements for Apprenticeships. The agreed framework of the revised course will be finalised at the end of March.

To provide feedback to Seafish, email with your thoughts and comments.