SUNSEEKER has been singled out for praise by the government as it announced a record intake of apprentices.
The luxury boat builder is to take 31 at its Poole factories and nine in Portland, bringing its total number of apprentices to more than 100.
The company will have more staff going through the training than at any time since it became part of the government apprenticeship scheme in 1979. The move will mean more than five per cent of its boat-building workforce are apprentices.
Skills minister Robert Halfon visited Sunseeker’s Technology Centre at Mannings Heath, Poole, to meet apprentices working on boat interiors and technology.
He told the Daily Echo: “I wanted to come here during National Apprenticeship Week because this is one of the leading companies not just in the area but in the country in terms of supporting apprentices.
“They haven’t just done it over the last couple of years, they’ve done it for many years.
“They understand that when you give young people apprenticeships, you give them a ladder of opportunity to get the skills they need, to lead to job security in the future.“What this company’s doing is extraordinary.”
He stressed the range of apprenticeships now available, from traditional skills to digital technology. He said degree level apprenticeships were also available and apprenticeships were not restricted to the young.
“When you do an apprenticeship, not only do you get the skills but you are almost guaranteed a job because 70 per cent of apprentices go on to employment. You don’t have any student debt, you’re earning money and you get an almost guaranteed job afterwards,” he added.
He backed the government’s apprenticeship levy, which raises money that companies can use to train their own workforces.
“Not every company is like this one. If companies don’t want to have apprenticeships, the government take the levy and use it to spend on other companies to help with training and apprentices. A company like this is already doing it,” Mr Halfon said.
Sunseeker’s apprentices work across a range of disciplines from electrical manufacture of helms and consoles to the handcrafting of furniture and upholstery. New apprentices will be able to choose from four specialisms – composite boat building, carpentry boat building, marine electrical and marine engineering.
Sunseeker’s talent manager Alex Bowman said: “Our apprenticeship scheme is hugely beneficial; we would not have been able to grow so quickly if it were not for the people that have developed with us. Many of our highly skilled colleagues, manufacturing leaders and international aftersales team joined us as apprentices.”