Cockwells' Boatbuilding apprentices
February 7, 2024 Cockwells’ apprentices learn raft of new boatbuilding skills

As the UK marks National Apprenticeship Week, the first apprentices to enrol on Cockwells Modern & Classic Boatbuilding’s new Level 3 Boatbuilder Apprenticeship scheme, have already learned a raft of new boatbuilding skills.

Launched by Cornwall Marine Network (CMN) in collaboration with Cockwells last autumn, with the objective of training the next generation of boatbuilders, this apprenticeship not only offers learners aged 16 and above a valuable qualification but also the opportunity to develop transferable skills that are highly valued by employers.


So far, the eight inaugural apprentices have learned about the Cockwells brand and its products; health and safety dos and don’ts in the workshop; the wet lay-up laminating process; an understanding of the timbers and composite materials used in boatbuilding; basic joinery, including how to use chisels, saws, squares and mortise gauges, and how to create bridle, mortise and tenon joints; how to utilise woodworking machinery such as a band saw, linisher belt sander, drill press, table saw and planer thicknesser, as well as the infusion and vacuum bagging processes.


They have also taken part in weekly theory and practical sessions to enable them to undertake the City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Boatbuilding, which forms part of the foundation stage of the apprenticeship, and are working across Cockwells’ sites in Mylor and Ponsharden on a rota basis to gain an overall understanding of the various roles from laminating, joinery and painting to engineering, boatbuilding and electricals.


“I am already impressed with how professionally the course is being delivered and how much I am learning,” says apprentice, Louis. “Whatever my future holds, I want to set myself up with a range of different skills for my future employment, and I think this apprenticeship will enable me to do just that.”


Oli agrees and has already felt a massive improvement in how he approaches woodwork projects.


“I have only done two months in the joinery department and have already noticed an improvement in my accuracy and how I approach different tasks given to me,” he explains. “I would highly recommend this course as by the end of the four-year apprenticeship, I will have developed such a large umbrella of different skills that will be able to take me anywhere in the world.”


It is not just the professionalism of the training that is singled out for praise but the warm welcome the apprentices have received from the Cockwells team.


“Everyone is really friendly and always happy to help or give advice when it’s needed,” comments Jacob.


“We are proud to be facilitating high-quality apprenticeship training delivered by Cornwall Marine Network and it is encouraging to see how much progress our Apprentice Boatbuilders have already made in such a short time,” says Cockwells’ Founder and Executive Chairman, Dave Cockwell. “As the company continues to expand, the need for highly-skilled craftsmen and women increases so this collaboration will create a new generation of boatbuilders to sustain Cornwall’s reputation for boatbuilding excellence.”


“Basing the training activity at Cockwells’ premises and tailoring it to business needs ensures the skills support is truly demand-led and delivered in a real work setting, without the need for the apprentices to travel,” comments Paul Wickes MBE, CEO of Cornwall Marine Network. “The training that CMN delivers supports and complements Cockwells’ world-class brand and reputation, and we hope to enable other boatbuilding companies to place their apprentices at the Cockwells Training Academy as it grows to develop a skilled local workforce for the future.”


For further information about the Cockwells/Cornwall Marine Network Boatbuilding Apprenticeship Scheme, head to


For an informal chat, please contact Carol Churcher at Cornwall Marine Network via 01326 211382 or email

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