A Devon college at the forefront of helping women break into the marine sector is celebrating International Women into Marine Day on Friday.
South Devon College wants to help change the perception of a career in marine by encouraging more women to work in the industry.
The event in April, being held at South Devon College’s Hi Tech & Digital Centre, is aimed at girls and young women who are interested in a career within marine. As well as a variety of activities planned there will be a talk by Holly Manvell, founder of Clean Sailors.
Holly started her not-for-profit organisation to raise awareness of ocean conservation and cleaner sailing practices.
“Our aim is to create an ocean ambassador out of each and every sailor around the world,” explained Holly.
This year, she launched the Clean Sailors Youth Racing Team with three young champion sailors competing at the highest standard of foiling sailing, including CJ Perez, the youngest sailor ever to join the SailGP sailing league and the first female sailor to win a SailGP race.
“At Clean Sailors, we work to set a new standard of sailing and sailor, mobilising our global sailing community in the conservation of our oceans. As part of our journey it is imperative for me, and for our ever-growing, international team, to build the future of our industry; one that is cleaner, yes, but as importantly, one that is more diverse and more accessible. A truly innovative, leading and sustainable industry depends on us achieving this.”
Currently, women make up 14.5% of all engineers but there has been an increase in the last few years; an increase that Harriette Wade-West, marine lecturer at South Devon College, has seen reflected in the student population at the Marine Academy.
"We are seeing increasing numbers of female students on marine courses, in engineering as well as boat-building and other disciplines. This is really encouraging to see and it's great to be at the forefront of this shift.
“Pursuing a career in the maritime sector is a great choice for women as there are so many options and opportunities for a challenging career, with the chance to work anywhere in the world.”
Working alongside Princess Yachts, one of the world’s leading boat builders, South Devon College offers marine engineering, composites and boatbuilding apprenticeships and they’re seeing a change in the gender split.
“We have reached a 25/75 female to male ratio. Getting to 50/50 is looking more likely and it will revolutionise the marine industry,” explained Alison Thompson, Head of Learning and Development at Princess Yachts.
20-year-old Charlotte Hewitson from Plymouth studied engineering at college but only recently decided to specialise in marine engineering. Now she’s on an apprenticeship at Princess Yachts which involves one day of study at South Devon College.
“My sector inspires me because there are so many opportunities and experiences within it, not just in my job currently, but as a whole. I also like how the jobs vary and there’s a broad range of roles including mechanical and electrical.
I hope to finish my apprenticeship with Princess Yachts and expand my knowledge, skills and experience.”
Also on the marine engineering apprenticeship programme at Princess Yachts is 19-year-old Freya Wood. She enjoys the practical side of the work and the fact that it’s then backed up by her study at college.
“I like engineering because you can see the work you’ve put in, even when it’s little jobs. It’s nice to see it and just think “I did that” and have a physical reminder of the work you do.”
Freya, who has been interested in engineering since she was 13 years old after attending a career event, hopes to travel the world with her skills and live in different countries.
Both Charlotte and Freya study at South Devon College’s specialist Marine Academy which is reopening next month at Premier Marinas’ new Noss on Dart development.
Over the next 10 years, South Devon College Marine Academy aims to close the skills gap within the maritime sector and offer students a vibrant and flexible education with strong industry relationships. ''Back in 2019, the maritime sector was forecast to grow by 15% between then and 2023, '' explained Harriette Wade-West.
To capitalise on this, South Devon College Marine Academy set a 10-year plan with the aim of closing the skills gap within the sector and offering students a vibrant and flexible education with strong industry relationships.
The academy is perfectly placed for supporting academic study with practical delivery on the water and offers students of all ages top rate facilities including a marine engineering workshop and a research and design facility.
For those wishing to pursue higher-level qualifications, the South Devon College Marine Academy also offers two foundation degrees, Marine Technologies and Maritime Leadership and Vessel Management, which are currently in an exciting redevelopment phase and a Level 6 degree Product Design and Development Engineer apprenticeship.
For more information go to www.southdevon.ac.uk