Berthon Apprenticeship Scheme

In 2009, Berthon Boat Co Ltd gained £850K of government funding to run an Apprenticeship Expansion Pilot.

Berthon, as lead employer, engaged with Business & Skills competitors and its supply chain to bring a thriving apprenticeship model to 15 businesses (13 new to training) employing 60 new apprentices.

National statistics show a graduation rate of 70% whilst Berthon regular success rates between 90-100%.

Their commitment to training has gained Berthon two national awards in recent years, recognising not only their scheme but also their effort in raising industry awareness to fill the real problem of the skills gap created by lack of apprenticeship investment and an ageing workforce.

Now government funding has ceased, Berthon has agreed to administer (free of charge) the Ark Appeal Shipwrights' scheme, in connection with The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights. This is to ensure funding is directed primarily to smaller firms in the sector who are not training, offering advice and guidance addressing the perceived problems of hiring and training youngsters with the necessary skills for the future. 

Shipshape Network members UK-wide who are interested in taking on an apprentice are encouraged to read about this scheme and make contact with Berthon to find out more.

About Berthon Boat Company

Berthon has been synonymous with yacht build and boat repairs since 1877. A family business that has been trading continuously since 1877 from their riverside site that was mentioned in the Doomsday Book, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience. (Click here for historic timeline).

With 100 skilled craftsmen and state of the art yard facilities in Lymington, Hampshire,

Berthon has the ability to deal with all aspects of yacht maintenance, refits and boat repairs.  They also offer yacht construction or fit-out projects at the highest level.

At recently refurbished Lymington boatyard facilities, they operate an apprenticeship scheme and many of their craftsmen have been part of the firm throughout their working life.  Berthon offers apprenticeships on site in the following disciplines:

  • Marine Engineering
  • Marine Electrical
  • Boatbuilding
  • Boat Painting
  • Storesperson.

Case study of a traditional skills training project at Berthon Boat Company

West Solent One Design W8 Refit: built by Berthon in 1925, the refit of sail number W8 (originally named Dinah) has been a project that has had input from Berthon's apprentices. The project started in October 2012, here are some of the trainees' stories so far (more stories available on the Berthon trainees blog) and see below for updates:


March 2015 - RIPPLE....the story continues

The work to restore RIPPLE, a 1925 Berthon built West Solent one design has been progressing with apprentice Lewis Still taking directions from seasoned Mike Prince in the corner of the big blue sheds at Berthon.  Lewis, a 2nd year apprentice shipwright comments on the work he has been undertaking in this rebuild.  Read more on the website.

Or watch the following clip.

Taken from, March 2015

Update, December 2014 - Berthon joins the GREAT campaign

The Government launched the GREAT campaign back in 2011 with the aim of promoting all the UK has to offer as somewhere to invest and visit.  It focusses on areas such as Technology and Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Knowledge, Green, Heritage, Sport, Shopping, Music and the Countryside.

Berthon have now been included in the “Business is GREAT” campaign, due to their continued commitment to retaining skills in the marine industry through apprenticeships.

Take a look at the following video, shot as part of the campaign.

Read more on the website.

Update, April 2014 - HEATHER returns for some TLC

Originally built by the Berthon Boat Company in 1935, HEATHER is a 12 ton Gauntlet.  One of the 16 types of this vessel built by Berthon between 1934 and 1939.

Following a survey which highlighted a number of areas that needed attention, HEATHER is back at Berthon for some works, to make her ready for the 2014 season.  Read more about the works being carried out, with accompanying images, on the Berthon blog.

Taken from, March 2014

Update - Feb 2014

Work continues to progress on the restoration of RIPPLE: 

‘We now have all of the laminated frames in the midship section of the boat permanently fixed in place.

Bronze fabricated plate floors have also been fitted to the frames. The plate floors act to strengthen the whole backbone structure and in effect tie the two halves of the boat together along the centre line.

Also of note, the old Stern Post, Stern Knee and Rudder Box have been removed and the new sternpost and stern knee have been made and installed.’

Visit the website for more detail and a short film.

Update - Nov 2013 Graduation Awards for BERTHON APPRENTICES

Berthon has been very involved in the development of apprenticeship graduations together with the British Marine Federation. This is important to raise awareness of the fantastic opportunities in the Marine industry for young people and to recognise the achievements of the apprentices who have undergone 4 years of training.

Apprentices achieve traditional and vocational qualifications as part of their education, as well as job specific health and safety and manufacturers' training.

The inaugural Graduation ceremony at the London Boat Show 2011 was well received and it was then decided that the optimum timing and venue for future graduations should be switched to September and the Southampton Boat Show.

This year Berthon's 6 graduate apprentices spent a day at the Boat Show before receiving their awards.

Keigh Longman, Berthon's Yard Manager commented: "An Advanced Apprenticeship is a large commitment for both us as Employers and for the Apprentices themselves. It is brilliant to be able to recognise their achievements in a formal way in front of friends and family and show that Apprenticeships really are a viable alternative to University, producing fully skilled personnel in sustainable worthwhile careers."

Berthon currently has 30 apprentices working at the Shipyard, training in disciplines such as Marine Engineering, Marine Electrical, Boatbuilding (Shipwrights), Painting/Spraying and Rigging.

Berthon's recruit new young people onto their Apprenticeship programme annually and welcomed 8 new apprentices this September.

For information about the Berthon Apprenticeship Programme, contact Keith Longman.

Update - Sep 2013

Work on RIPPLE moves forward:
‘The frames are made using laminates of iroko machined to a thickness of 5mm. These are then covered with resorcinol glue on all mating faces and bent around a laminating jig; as pictured in the blog. This is then left for the glue to cure. Once the glue has completely hardened the frame is then removed and machined to the required thickness. The frame will later be tapered and bevelled on its outside face to allow it to correctly fit the shape of the planking.’

See a short video here

Update - Jul 2013

Here is the latest timelapse video of RIPPLE’s transformation by the Berthon Apprentices, with highlights of the framing process mentioned in ‘The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.’ (G.K. Chesterton) by Jack Gunstone-Smith (Second year Shipwright Apprentice).

Full blog post here


Jack Gunstone Smith - serving a four year advanced apprenticeship at Berthon in the Shipwright department. He says 'I applied for my apprenticeship online, was invited for interview, and was lucky enough to be chosen for an apprenticeship, which was great news as it was something I really wanted to do.'

Jack moved himself from West Wales to Lymington to enable him to take on his new role at Berthon and he is really enjoying the challenge. He is studying an extended diploma as a Shipwright at a local college coupled with an NVQ Level 3 alongside his work based training.

On starting at Berthon in Sep 2011, Jack was set to work on many projects for the MOD where he stayed for the first 14 months of his apprenticeship, learning techniques such as GRP repairs, Gelcoat repairs, GRP mould making and laminating. Work varied from RIBs and FMLs to Yachts during this time.

Jack is currently working on the restoration of the West Solent One Design W8 Ripple, which is having a complete rebuild at Berthon after originally being built here in the 1920s.

West Solent One Design W8 Refit: Update - May 2013

Since the last instalment on the blog, work has been progressing on 'Ripple' in leads and bounds. The new keel timber has been made from iroko hardwood, using templates taken from the original.

The laminated frames are also coming along, now 8 pairs are copmleted ready to be cut and shaped and fitted into the new keel. The frames were made using laminates of iroko machined into a thickness of 5mm.

By Jack Gunstone-Smith (second year Shipwright Apprentice)

New film encouraging more young people to explore apprenticeship opportunities - Mar 2013

Sam Parker, marine electrics advanced apprentice at Berthon Boat Company, starts in the film with three other apprentices from UK-based manufacturing and engineering companies. 

The film highlights the breadth of skills developed during an apprenticeship and the importance of the sector to the economy.  The four apprentices talk about their experience and how an apprenticeship has benefitted them.

Semta, the Sector Skills Council for the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering sectors, is encouraging employers to promote the film and it will be used by the National Apprenticeship Service in resource packs for schools.

Sam, 24, who attended Trafalgar School at Downton, said: "My apprenticeship has given me an amazing opportunity to achieve a well-respected qualification, as well as gain valuable experience in an innovative, high growth industry. I hope the film will highlight to other young people just how rewarding an apprenticeship is and encourage them to investigate the options available."

West Solent One Design W8 Refit: Update - Feb 2013

Berthon Boatyard owner Brian May has renamed the West Solent One Design W-8 that the Berthon apprentices are currently restoring as an educational project. Designed and built at the Lymington based shipyard by Brian’s great grandfather H G May in 1925, the boat was originally christened Dinah, and still bore that name when she arrived here in October 2012. When asked why the name change, MD Brian May responded:

Dinah – whichever way you pronounce it – has a rather sombre tone to it, whether you use the ancient form akin to the American ‘diner’ made so popular in the fifties and sixties, or the harsher ‘deener’."

“I think the new name I have chosen – Ripple – leads on from the boat’s first name, just as her initial namesake led to ripples many centuries ago. I simply cannot wait to have Ripple sailing again creating her own ripples in Solent waters and beyond as a tribute to both my ancestors’ and our modern day apprentices’ skills."

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