10th January 2023
A Devon college is hoping to reel in commercial fishers of the future with its new fisher apprenticeship scheme.
South Devon College, based in Paignton on the English Riviera, has recently launched its ground-breaking Fisher Apprenticeship.
Working alongside regional employers the apprenticeship will train the next generation to sustainably harvest fish and shellfish as well as learn about fishing methods.
Laurence Gilson, 30, from Paignton has been working as a fisherman for 16 years, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him.
“I work twelve hours a day in the wheelhouse on six hour shifts,” Laurence explained. “I spend my life chasing something just like a video game and I know what I’m chasing is worth money and what I’ve chased I’ve done it all myself.”
Martyn Youell, Head of Fisheries at Waterdance Ltd, who is working with South Devon College on its innovative Fisher Apprenticeship, says fishing is a physically and mentally challenging job with excellent career progression but is facing a recruitment shortage.
“Fishing can seem like a closed world where the only routes in are by word of mouth or being born into a fishing family. But the skills to be a fisher can absolutely be learnt.
“The apprenticeship route provides a structured introduction to fishing that I’m confident will draw in brilliant people who go on to achieve success in UK fishing,” explained Martyn, whose company will be taking on several apprentices. “There is so much potential for people who want to work hard.”
Fisher apprentices will study at the recently opened South Devon College Marine Academy. Based at Premier Marina’s new £75 million Noss-on-Dart Marina the Academy boasts state-of-the-art facilities and strong employer links.
“As a leading South West Further Education college we see this apprenticeship as being of great importance to the future of the south west’s fishing communities and employers and are pleased to have been able to work with local employers and fish producers organisations on its development,” said Adrian Bevin, Head of Curriculum at South Devon College. “We very much look forward to welcoming the first Fisher apprentices.”
Laurence is one of around 11,000 fishers in the UK and says it’s a great way of life if you show motivation and enthusiasm.
“If you’ve got the drive to make you want to go into the industry there’s no ends to what you can do in this job. Set a goal and achieve the goal. The sky’s the limit.”
Anthony Mangnall, MP for Totnes and South Devon says the Fisher Apprenticeship is vital to the survival of the industry and for “encouraging young people back to the industry. I am impressed with the way that South Devon College has progressed with the apprenticeship driving it forward in the local and wider area.”