SEVENTY marine companies teamed up with a college to launch a unique academy based in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The new Solent Marine Academy, run by Highbury College, was officially unveiled on Saturday.
From September, students will be able to study for a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Marine Engineering in classrooms and workshops in Boathouse 4.
Principal Stella Mbubaegbu said: ‘I don’t think there is a better place in the world to be doing this kind of course than Portsmouth.
‘It is such a great naval city, with sailing and historic links, this is the right place – in the historic dockyard. It is magical and we are absolutely thrilled.’
Satwant Deol, from Highbury College in Cosham, said the course had been tailored with the help of local marine companies.
She said: ‘We have now spoken to about 70 companies and they have picked the course units and they will be providing apprenticeships too. We have worked with industry to revitalise our offer. It is exciting.’
The two-year programme will see students study boat building, mathematics, mechanics, electronics, health and safety and communications, as well as computer aided design, business, welding and electrical installations.
Business development manager Don Lang said: ‘This is the only way for somebody who is coming out of school to go straight into a Level 3 apprenticeship in marine engineering.
‘They will learn practical skills like boat building by repairing damaged sailing yachts.
‘They’ll do practical skills but also a business course as in the industry they will need business skills too.’
An open day was held at the new centre at the weekend so that interested students could meet course leaders and find out more about the location and projects.
Nathan George, 16, from Cosham, went on one of the tours.
He said: ‘I have done some research and I am quite intrigued by it.
‘There’s a lack of engineers for this industry and for the country. Also there is a wide range of subjects on this course.’
Sarjo Sanyang, 18, from Southsea, was also keen to sign up.
He said: ‘I like everything about it, even the sawdust, and there’s so many opportunities from it.’
For more go to highbury.ac.uk or call (023) 9238 3131.