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SEEDA's Chairman goes 'back to the floor' to support National Apprenticeship Week

1 February 2010
SEEDA Chair 2010 Apprentices Week
SEEDA Chair Apprentices Week 2010

SEEDA Chairman, Rob Douglas, become an apprentice for the day today in support of National Apprenticeship Week (1–5 February).

SEEDA, as part of the national Regional Development Agency (RDA) network, is committed to creating economic prosperity through developing and harnessing the skills sets required to give the UK an international competitive advantage. National Apprenticeship Week is organised by the National Apprenticeship Service and aims to celebrate the talents and skills of apprentices.

Rob learned about boatbuilding and composites during lessons at Southampton City College’s Maritime Technology Centre followed by a trip to Solent Refit, where he changed into overalls and helped Tom Noble, 24, (pictured right) – an existing apprentice with Yacht project Associates – rebuild two main engines for a large vessel.

The day showcased the talent found within the region and demonstrated the value for business in employing and supporting apprentices in the workplace.

Rob Douglas commented: "Equipping young people with the skills necessary to support growth industries will ensure the future success of the region. The marine sector currently makes up 25 per cent of the Solent economy and generates 25,000 jobs throughout the area. Continued investment in this sector will build on the area’s strengths, provide a platform for future growth and ensure that the South East remains a leading centre for the marine sector."

Tom, who has been an apprentice with Yacht Projects Associates since September 2009, added: "An apprenticeship is a great opportunity for someone of my age. When I left school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Now that I do, it’s nice to be given a second chance to establish a career in something I’m really committed to. The marine industry is a really exciting sector and it’s a great time to be part of it."

SEEDA acquired the former RAF Hythe site, which is recognised as a key waterside employment site within the Solent Waterfront Strategy, from the Ministry of Defence in 2007 when the US Army left the site. SEEDA has worked with all tenants on site and encouraged them to become active in apprenticeship schemes. Tom is one of 15 apprentices across the site that manages the Solent Refit facility, in partnership with CB Richard Ellis, on SEEDA's behalf.

Lindsey Noble, Principal at Southampton City College, concludes: "We were delighted to welcome Rob to the marine centre at City College as part of National Apprenticeship Week. I am keen to encourage as many businesses as possible to think about whether they can offer a young person an opportunity to train as an apprentice. We have many keen young people, with a good basic training already, looking for opportunities right now in a wide range of industries."

Each of the nine RDAs throughout the UK are committed to developing regional skills and recognise the value apprenticeships play in delivering economic success. SEEDA leads on skills for the RDAs and for more information please visit

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