- Operations - UKSA reports record number of students

By Conor Feasey

UKSA reports record number of students

The maritime youth charity had over 10,000 beneficiaries in its 2022/2023 training programmes, a third of which were funded…

Isle of Wight-based UKSA received a record number of 10,590 beneficiaries for its 2023/2023 training programmes, with around 33% receiving financial support from the charity and its partners. According to its Impact Report 2022/2023, UKSA also graduated 737 pupils from its yachting and superyacht crew training programmes, all of which have found employment since.

“With thanks to our generous supporters, we have been able to fund 3,249 children and young people and continue our work to remove financial and social barriers to enable students from any background to be able to access UKSA programmes,” says Ben Willows, CEO, UKSA. 

“This is only possible with the support of our donors and supporters and it’s only with your continued help that we can transform the lives of so many children and young people. I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to you all.”

Willows adds that one of the highlights from the year was UKSA’s patron, Her Royal Highness, Princess Royal, officially opening the new Sea.Change building. This has given UKSA a “much-needed” additional 136 beds and allows the charity to welcome around 3,000 more people each year.

UKSA’s Sea.Change Foundation Programme is a funded five-day residential programme, designed to teach teenagers about career options in the maritime sector during the school holidays, a time that can be much harder for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Some of the participants are already eyeing a career in the superyacht industry.

Badr Ahmed Badr arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker having fled war-torn Yemen with his family. He has now attended two Sea.Change courses at UKSA in 2021 and 2022, and says he returned to school determined to become a superyacht skipper. He plans on enrolling in the superyacht cadetship programme at UKSA after he completes his A Levels.

“As always there is lots going on and much still to be done at UKSA,” says Willows. “We are working to increase the accessibility of the maritime industry by creating structured pathways into training for those who may not otherwise have known about the opportunities the industry presents.”

Graduates of the UKSA superyacht cadetship programme are enjoying employment too. Holly Barnard, 24, landed her “dream job” as a second mate on board Pangaea’s 72m Sea Dragon.

“Every day is an adventure. Exploring unknown territories, meeting wildlife and being able to sail to areas only accessible by boat is pretty spectacular,” says Barnard. “With the support of the [UKSA partner] Trinity House bursary, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. Without their funding, I would not have been able to afford the course.”

Investments and a focus on mental health played a key factor in the charity's projects over the last 12 months too. USKA delivered its Maritime Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training course to 457 adult students and provided 502 young people with one-to-one support.

The charity finished the year with 275,000 miles logged on training vessels and a 100% pass rate in its further education programmes. Around 30% of further education graduates have enrolled in careers training.

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