SPONSORS are being sought to help change the lives of unemployed young people by giving them the chance to learn traditional boatbuilding skills.
Later this year, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust and the International Boatbuilding Training College Portsmouth will open a new training centre at the dockyard’s once-disused Boathouse 4.
The development is aimed at bringing the building back to life and offering young people the chance to learn new skills.
Now the Heritage Lottery Fund has offered to part-fund 13 bursaries for places on the boatbuilding training courses which will be held over the next two years.
But an extra £4,200 is needed for each young person.
So the property trust is now appealing for sponsors to come forward and help make a difference.
Peter Goodship, consultant chief executive of the trust, said: ‘There is an acknowledged lack of qualified people in the wooden boatbuilding industry.
‘We hope that some bursary graduates will join a future workforce helping to maintain and restore some of the country’s most famous wooden ships – maybe even HMS Victory herself.’
Bursary students are not required have any experience in boatbuilding or even woodwork to enroll – the trust says it is enthusiasm and commitment that counts.
An initial three-week probation period will be used to assess the trainee’s commitment and motivation to learn.
The 47-week intensive courses in traditional wooden boatbuilding and related skills will be delivered at the training centre.
The historic Boathouse 4 is currently being transformed into an environment similar to a commercially-operated boatyard, fully fitted out for educational purposes, boatbuilding and boat repair, with cranage, engineering, joinery, welding and varnishing workshops all providing students with practical work experience.
The building is also intended to become a visitor attraction itself, as people will be able to watch the boatbuilding work as it happens.
On graduation, successful students will be awarded a City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Marine Construction, Systems Engineering and Maintenance, which is internationally recognised in the boatbuilding industry.
Anyone who wants to sponsor a student can meet with them personally and receive regular updates on their progress.
Company and individual sponsors’ names will be recognised in the main reception area of the restored Boathouse 4 and the sponsorship cost can be spread over two years.
Gill Wilson of the International Boatbuilding Training College Portsmouth said: ‘As far as the breadth and standard of skills go, you’d be hard pressed to find a woodworking trade more comprehensive in its scope than boatbuilding.
‘Potential employers favour our course model, which gives the student a much broader range of experience than a single build, and also covers repair and restoration techniques which cannot be taught on a new vessel.’
If you are interested in sponsoring a student on a full year’s course in traditional boatbuilding, contact Abi Isherwood on (023) 9289 3321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.