Boatbuilding apprentices at Cockwells
October 25, 2023 Cockwells joins forces with Cornwall Marine Network to launch unique boatbuilding apprenticeship scheme

Cockwells Modern & Classic Boatbuilding has joined forces with Cornwall Marine Network (CMN) to train the next generation of boatbuilders through a new City & GuildsLevel 3 Boatbuilder Apprenticeship scheme. It is the only one of its kind in the Duchy as it is offered in the workplace and tailored to business needs.

Aimed at learners aged 16 and above who would like to gain the practical knowledge and skills required to embark upon a rewarding career in boatbuilding, this apprenticeship not only offers a valuable qualification but also the opportunity to develop transferable skills that are highly valued by employers.


The inaugural cohort will commence training on Monday 20 November. Delivered over 48 months, learning will initially take place at the Cockwells’ satellite facility that is situated on the former Vospers site in Ponsharden. With a 50/50 split between practice and theory, the first three weeks will comprise intensive ‘practice and play’ to provide a flavour of the range of skills that the Apprentices will learn on the workshop floor during their studies. The theoretical aspects of boatbuilding will then be covered in day release sessions every Friday between 8am and 2.30pm.


“As a City & Guilds accredited delivery partner and assessor for the Level 3 Boatbuilding Apprenticeship qualification, we have worked closely with Cockwells’ managers to curate curriculum content that will enable learners to gain skills across production, manufacturing, service and construction,” explains Cornwall Marine Network’s Boatbuilding ProgrammeManager, Amy Stringfellow. “During the first three weeks, the Apprentices will undertake joinery exercises, fibreglass wet layup and machinery competency, and learn about boat and engineering technology, product uses and materials, and health and safety, to build confidence and help them hit the ground running when they transfer to the workplace. During our weekly Friday sessions, we will look closely at the marine sector as a whole and understand the theory that underpins it.”


This qualification is designed to introduce Apprentices to the full range of career opportunities that are available to them within the wider boatbuilding and marine sector, from project manager, lecturer, assessor and marine/electrical engineer, to naval architect, paint sprayer, laminator, joiner or boatyard operative.


“We are proud to be delivering high-quality apprenticeship training in partnership with Cornwall Marine Network and offering fantastic opportunities for enthusiastic individuals to join our highly skilled team of craftsmen and women as Apprentice Boatbuilders,” says Cockwells’ Founder and Managing Director, Dave Cockwell. “Through this scheme, Apprentices will not only acquire all the practical skills they need to become multi-talented boatbuilders. They will also learn how to transform production plans and concept drawings into reality.


“As Cockwells Modern & Classic Boatbuilding continues to expand, the need for highly-skilled craftsmen and women increases,” adds Dave Cockwell. “This collaboration with Cornwall Marine Network will create a pipeline of talented individuals that we can nurture and employ. By working together, we can ensure that Cornwall’s reputation for boatbuilding excellence is retained and sustained for the future. As a proudly Cornish employer, we are passionate about sharing our artisan craftsmanship and experience of technological innovation and advanced engineering with the next generation of boatbuilders, so this is an exciting project for the company and for Cornwall.”


Commenting about this new partnership, Paul Wickes MBE, CEO of Cornwall Marine Network added: “CMN is delighted to be supporting Dave and Jo Cockwell to bring their vision for the Cockwells Training Academy to reality. Basing the training activity at Cockwells’ premises ensures the skills support is truly demand-led and delivered in a real work setting, without the need for the Apprentices to travel. CMN is ensuring the training we deliver supports and complements the world-class brand and reputation for excellence that Cockwells has developed. As the Cockwells Training Academy grows, together, we will open-up the training support to enable other local boatbuilding companies to place their Apprentices into the centre as we grow the 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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