20th July 2021
South Devon College were delighted to hear their employer partner Princess Yachts, the UK’s largest yacht manufacturer, hosted Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at their South Yard facility in Plymouth last week. Also in attendance were her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, Mr David Fursdon; Chairman of The City and Guilds of London Institute, Sir John Armitt; and Group Chief Executive, The City and Guilds of London Institute, Ms Kirstie Donnelly.
The Princess Royal visited Princess Yachts as an extension of awarding the company’s Apprenticeship programme with a Princess Royal Award in 2020. The awards are selected by Her Royal Highness and the President of City & Guilds Group to recognise organisations whose training has delivered measurable business impact.
Princess Yachts’ award-winning Apprenticeship scheme won The Princess Royal award for ‘positioning apprenticeships as a viable career choice’. Princess was recognised for having invested in its apprenticeship programme to ensure that it has a strong talent pipeline in place. Apprenticeships at Princess are open to employees of any age, with apprentices progressing their career path within the business and in fact 10% of the current managers within the business are former apprentices. Getting an apprenticeship with Princess Yachts is widely viewed as an extremely attractive career opportunity within the region.
During the visit, Her Royal Highness spoke with the apprentices about their experiences, and congratulated them on their efforts. The Princess Royal was also invited to speak about the importance of The Royal Training Awards and present the Apprentice of the Year award to three outstanding apprentices: Freddie Ambrose, Tia Lawton and Alex Walsh, in addition to Apprentice Mentor of the Year, which was awarded to Phil Hardy, a Bench Carpenter at Princess. Her Royal Highness was presented with a gift made by apprentice, Freddie Ambrose, as a reminder of her visit to the British yacht brand’s facility.
Hayley Spencer, a Marine Engineering Degree Apprentice, who was one of the apprentices involved with the application process for the Princess Royal Award said, “It was a privilege to have the opportunity to meet Her Royal Highness and work closely with the Learning and Development team to apply for the award. I have been training as an apprentice for eight years at Princess and enjoy working with such a supportive training team, with the ability to progress myself and my career within the company.”
Led by Antony Sheriff, Executive Chairman and CEO at Princess Yachts, Her Royal Highness also undertook a tour of Princess’ historic South Yard facility, a former 17th century naval yard where the company’s largest X Class yachts are constructed. The tour included the Development area where the Princess development boats are built as 1:1 life-size wooden mock-ups; Major Moulds; the X95 build shop; and on-board a finished X95 in the shallow dock, allowing The Princess Royal to follow the journey a Princess yacht follows, from design to completion.
“The Princess Royal Training Awards recognise employers who have invested in the skills of their people and can evidence the impact it has on their businesses” said Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Group Chief Executive – City & Guilds Group. “Princess Yachts have clearly shown that their future success is assured by achieving the demanding standard required and ensuring that their next generation of workers will have the skills required to continue their tradition of both craft and technical excellence.”