Working for a shipyard involves carrying out repairs, refits and conversions on boats and ships, as well as building new vessels from scratch. Some yards will work on pretty spectacular boats, worth several million pounds, that come from all of corners of the world. So it can be an exciting place to work. And a career at a shipyard can open up opportunities to travel far and wide yourself.
People who work at shipyards are generally technically-minded with good practical skills - a love of the sea helps too - and will usually specialise in a certain area, such as joiners, electricians and engineers.
We caught up with Dan Peek, who recently graduated from the apprenticeship scheme at Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth, Cornwall and is now working at the yard - which builds and refits superyachts - as a qualified engineer/fitter.
Name: Dan Peek
Company: Pendennis Shipyard Ltd
Industry: Transport / Engineering
What is your job: Engineer/fitter
How long have you been doing this job: Four years as an apprentice, and two months as a
Apprenticeship: Engineering (2010-2014)
NVQs: Level 2 Electrical, Level 2 Engineering, Level 3 Marine Engineering.
GCSEs: Nine, including Maths and English
Interests: Sailing, Snowboarding, Cycling
What was your very first job?
The apprenticeship was my first job, I started when I was 16 years old.
What did you want to do when you were at school?
Before I found out about the apprenticeship at Pendennis I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do, but I always felt that I would work in an industry based around the water.
What made you want to train for your current job?
I've always been very interested in finding out how things work by taking them apart and putting them back together again. I knew I wanted to do something in the marine industry and involved in engineering, so when I saw the apprenticeship at the shipyard advertised I knew that was what I wanted to do.
How did you get there?
When I was 14 I did two weeks work experience at a small local boat yard, I then applied for the apprenticeship at Pendennis when I was 15 after hearing about it at a careers fair at Carn Brea Leisure Centre in West Cornwall. First of all I had to fill out an application form for the general apprenticeship scheme. To back this up I wrote a letter with some more detail about myself and my education. Once I got through this stage I had to go to Cornwall College in Camborne and take some basic hand skill tests. The final stage was an interview - I then found out if I had been accepted. Which I had!
Why did you choose an apprenticeship over university?
I felt I’m more of a practical hands-on person rather than academic, and decided an apprenticeship was for me.
What is a typical day at work like?
My typical day starts at 8am, when I see my supervisor to get a job for the day. This could be anything from lowering an engine or generator into a boat to fabricating pipe work for hydraulic systems. When I was an apprentice I would usually work with another engineer and be given small tasks to complete on my own. Now that I'm qualified I'm given tasks to complete on my own.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Working on magnificent boats, learning new skills, and doing something I enjoy.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Having to complete tasks in a very limited timescale.
What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
Make sure you have a good basic education and research the company you want to work for before applying for the job.
What advice do you have for people who are trying to decide between an apprenticeship or university?
Have a look at your personal strengths, if feel you are very academic then university is probably for you, if not then definitely try applying for an apprenticeship.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I would like to have completed my Marine Engineering HNC and hope to progress further in my career.
For more information on jobs by industry, check out the Career Zones on our website.