16th March 2023
A range of activities designed to create conversation and excitement around the careers available in the marine sector left students inspired.
As part of their efforts to recognise National Careers Week and also the recently celebrated International Women’s Day, South Devon College hosted ‘Women into Maritime’. Local schools across South Devon came to see what the sector has to offer.
There was a list of exciting and challenging activities to showcase various thought processes and not very well known roles and aspects of working in the marine industry. These activities included trying out vacuum resin transfer moulding and working with composites, to more light-hearted activities like the Bilge Pump Challenge and Milk Bottle Hull Challenge where the girls had to build a suitable hull with a sail to transport the most amount of marbles across the water.
Other figures in the marine industry joined the event too. There was Jessica Tyson who is currently an authorised pilot and Deputy Harbour Master for the Port of Bridgewater (also acting Deputy Harbour Master for Ports of Minehead & Watchet), and a Marine Consultant Surveyor of SDC Marine. Jessica is an experienced professional mariner with several years command and 18 years at sea. She was awarded the Merchant Navy Medal in 2019, and made the top 100 Women in Shipping list, in “All about Shipping” in 2019 and 2020.
Gordon Foot also visited – a consultant and operates in a ship borne senior leadership role as a Senior Client Representative supervising offshore operations on major offshore wind farms, oil and gas and environmental projects. Gordon is a retired Weapons Engineering Manager of the UK Royal Navy having served a 19 year career in nuclear submarines on special operations.
Princess Yachts, who exclusively run their apprenticeships with South Devon College, were present at the event. They promoted the apprenticeship scheme, as well as the roles that are available in the marine sector.
Charlotte Jones works at Princess Yachts as a Social Media and Content Specialist and delivered a talk to various schools, including Brixham College, Paignton Academy, Dawlish College, Plymouth UTC and South Devon High School. She spoke about what she does in her role at Princess Yachts, and giving a background of how she got to where she is today.
She said: “Sometimes in the marine sector, people only think of sailing ships or working in engineering but I come from a very creative background. I did illustration at university and have always been very arty. I never thought of having a career in marine until I discovered marketing, and that’s definitely one of many ways of getting into this industry.
Joining Charlotte was Freya and Brooke, two engineering apprentices. They came to assist with the activities and also chat with students about how they discovered their apprenticeships and what it’s like working hands-on with multi-million pound yachts.
Charlotte continued: “They weren’t promoted enough when I was at school and even today apprenticeships are still not always a considered an option by many. But at Princess Yachts, our apprenticeship scheme is award-winning and covers so many areas; engineering, IT, finance, business and who knows how much more that could expand.”
“But I want to emphasise how important it is that women and girls don’t let gender stereotypes hold you back. The marine industry is male-dominated; even where I work there’s more men than women. But you shouldn’t ever let something like that put you off going into an industry you want to be a part of. Just give it your best and you’ll more than likely smash it.”
Emily Pearson, Head of Business Solutions at South Devon College said: “This event is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with schools and our key employers such as Princess Yachts, helping to raise the gender diversity debate. This South Devon College programme of ‘Women Into’ events supports young females interested in hands on careers such as boat building and other related Maritime Sectors that we support from across the region.”
Students from the various schools said: “It was really eye-opening what careers are out there” and “really enjoyed the activities.” Many came with no pre-existing interest in the marine sector whilst some did. But all of the young women that attended left feeling inspired and empowered to pursue a career in marine regardless of the known male-dominance in that industry.
Discover a range of marine and maritime courses at South Devon College and make the first step to a career in the maritime sector.