Category: News

To recruit or not to recruit an apprentice in 2020 – that is the question

According to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), more than a quarter of businesses (27%) plan to reduce the number of graduates they recruit this year and 23% will cut apprenticeship and school leaver programmes.

Covid-19 has also impacted internships and placements, which will be reduced by 31%, with more than two thirds (68%) cancelling work experience and other taster opportunities.

With around a third of the businesses replying to ISE’s survey saying they were simply uncertain about their hiring plans, on a positive note a third of businesses were continuing with their recruitment plans, moving their interviews and assessments online.

The situation business owners find themselves in with covid-19 is not for the faint hearted. Do you err on the side of caution, slow down or stop the hiring of apprentices until you know more about how your business with weather the storm or do you carry on as normal with your apprentice strategy for the year and carry on with the original apprentice recruitment plan?

In my experience of running apprentice programmes, one of the key factors to a successful programme is consistency with the apprentice intakes, Missing a year may seem like the only thing to do at for that year, but the knock on effects to the business can have a huge impact in the long term, especially when using the apprenticeship programme to ‘grow your own talent’ to help fill the national skills shortages within your industry. Now is a good time to remind yourself on why the company has an apprenticeship programme in place, and to explore and understand what effect to the business there will be if an apprentice intake is not recruited in 2020.

One thing I have done in the past is to reduce the intake number to ensure the talent pipeline is still resourced rather than skip a whole intake, this is where the company’s succession plan springs into action, in identifying available experience and capabilities in the talent pipeline of the business and taking into account national skill shortages and hard to recruit for role, as well as potential retirees in the coming years.

Whilst these are uncertain times for businesses, I urge you to keep on planning ahead for when this period passes, and it will.

“Always plan ahead, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark” quote from Richard Cushing, America prelate of the Roman Catholic Church

S Potter Talent Ltd is an award-winning consultancy offering bespoke apprenticeship scheme management, human resources and learning & development strategies for business.

Contact details:
Mobile phone – 07486 073844
Email –
Interested in finding out more, then please feel free to book a discovery call at:

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Key points of Furlough

Key points on coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme

The Government has published a guidance on claiming for wage costs through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, known as the Furlough Scheme.

Below are key points only, you must also read the Governments full guidance, which can be found here, the ensure you have all the relevant information, as these key points on their own, will not be enough.

• Employers can claim up to 80% of wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Fees, commissions and bonuses are not included.

• Any UK organisation with employees can apply, including:

  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Recruitment agencies (agency workers paid through PAYE who are not working)
  • Public authorities

• Must have a PAYE payroll on or before 28th February 2020 and must have a UK bank account.

• Employers can claim for:

  • Full time employees
  • Part time employees
  • Employees on agency contracts
  • Employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

• Individuals are only entitled to minimum wage for the hours they work. If someone is furloughed and are not working, and 80% of their normal earnings would take them below the minimum wage based on their normal working hours, they still only receive 80% as they are not working.

• Any time spent training will be paid at national minimum wage.

• Employees must have been on the company’s payroll on 28th February 2020 to be eligible. Anyone employed after this date are not eligible. If someone was on the payroll from 28th February 2020 and has since been made redundant, they can be rehired and put on the scheme.

• Furlough leave must be taken in minimum blocks of three weeks to be eligible for funding.

• The employee must not be working at all, if they work for even an hour, they will not be eligible. However, they are able to undertake training and do volunteer work, as long as they do not provide services to or make any money for their employer.

• Normal employment law applies when agreeing changes in hours and acceptance of 80% pay, assuming the employees’ contract does not already allow for that.

• The selection process for furlough should follow the organisations standard redundancy process.

• Employees on sick leave or self-isolating cannot be furloughed, but can be furloughed afterwards. Employees who are shielding* can be placed on furlough.

• Employees on maternity, or similar leave can continue to draw SMP, or similar payments.

• Claims can only be made one every three weeks, and can be backdated to 1st March 2020. The scheme is expected to be up and running by the end of April 2020, with further guidance being issued by the Government on the mechanics of claiming the payments.

* shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.

S Potter Talent Ltd is an award-winning consultancy offering bespoke apprenticeship scheme management, human resources and learning & development strategies for business. Contact details: Mobile phone – 07486 073844 Email – Website –

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National Maritime welcomes the development of a new shipyard on the Thames

National Maritime very much welcomes the development of a new shipyard on the Thames and the Expression of Interest from London & Regional Properties Ltd and the Port of London Authority for shipyard operators to develop a new facility on the River Thames.

The development of a new shipyard supports one of the key priority frameworks set out by us in 2009. National Maritime has long recognised the strategic position and importance of the River Thames to supporting regional maritime sector and economic growth. We have always believed that with the right partnership approach, it can become the central axis in promoting and developing excellence in all maritime activities related to business, education and skills.

Expression of Interest: Albert Island Shipyard – Deadline for submissions 10 Feb 2020

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Climate Change Leadership Coordinated in New Centre of Excellence

This month January saw Cefas launch its International Marine Climate Change Centre (iMC3), bringing together scientists from different disciplines to better understand impacts of climate change on marine environments and coastal areas.

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Ambitious £17 Million Pembrokeshire Wave Energy Project on Track for Summer 2020 Deployment

Bombora has now contracted more than 70% of its ground breaking £17 million Pembrokeshire Demonstration Project. The project is currently on schedule for deployment in mid-2020. The project is part of Bombora’s accelerated commercialisation plan to validate mWave’s performance capabilities with a bigger scheme in Lanzarote, Spain already on the horizon.

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Over-budget & Over Specified – ‘Vested interest or corruption’

The controversial Ferguson ferry contract which the Scottish Government awarded to the highest of six bidders was based on “incompetence, vested interest or corruption”, MSPs have been told. Ferguson Marine won the contract in 2015 to build two new CalMac ferries despite its £97 million bid being the most expensive, while experts now estimate that it will cost an additional £110 million for the work to be completed. MSPs carrying out an inquiry into the delayed and over-budget new vessels were told by experts today that the Ferguson ferries appear to be “over specified” for their purpose.

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Creating a destination for London’s Historic Boat collection

The Royal Docks is embarking on an exciting new chapter, with over £8bn being invested in the area over the next 20 years. National Maritime has been discussing with partners about the creation of a destination for London’s Historic Boat collection. A collection of vessels associated with Ports, Rivers, Canals, Docks and trades of London which will be used to develop a tourism, skills and education offer. A creation of linear open-air heritage collection of boats, artefacts, objects and landscape running from East India Dock Basin through to Trinity Buoy Wharf and possibly beyond. Vessels displayed ashore, on river pier structures and afloat to suit age and condition and access. The Draft Masterplan is now out for public consultation. The message coming through is that the public want history of the docks and heritage vessels to be included. Join us, National Historic Ships and the Maritime Heritage Trust in voicing your support too. Have your say on what you think should happen.

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Multi-million pound Pembroke Dock Marine project takes major step forward

The Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee has signed-off a detailed business case for the £60 million Pembroke Dock Marine project, which will now be submitted to the UK Government and Welsh Government for final approval.

Led by the private sector and supported by Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembroke Dock Marine is expected to be worth over 1,800 jobs and £73.5 million a year to the Swansea Bay City Region’s economy.

The project is made up of four elements:

  • A Marine Energy Test Area (META) led by Marine Energy Wales within the Milford Haven Waterway, enabling technology developers to test their devices near their base of operation. META phase one was officially opened for business in September 2019.
  • The Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone (PDZ) delivered by Wave Hub Limited for the testing of full-scale wave and floating wind energy technologies. Located 13 miles off the South Pembrokeshire coast, the 90 square kilometer facility would be the largest of its kind in the world.
  • A Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) delivered by offshore wind, wave and tidal energy specialists ORE Catapult. Based at Pembroke Port, MEECE will be a collaboration between ORE Catapult and Welsh universities, providing expert knowledge for the marine energy industry. MEECE will also carry out life testing of marine energy components to boost their longevity.
  • Pembroke Dock Infrastructure, led by the Port of Milford Haven, will redevelop gate four at Pembroke Port to create large construction and laydown areas for marine energy devices, helping meet the needs of modern industry. A supersize slipway will be developed alongside extension of berthing space for use by marine energy work boats to meet the demands of the industry as it continues to mature.

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What Apprenticeship Strategy?

Apprenticeships, easy you don’t need an apprenticeship strategy you just hire a young person and sign them up to college – don’t you?

Well yes, you could adopt this approach, but I strongly recommend you don’t. Would you be this flippant with purchasing a new piece of equipment for your business, I doubt it, so why would you take this approach with hiring an apprentice?

Hiring an apprentice is an investment and like any other business investment you would carry out due diligence, and the same approach needs to be applied to your apprenticeship programme.

Start by looking at the short, mid and long-term business needs ensuring you align your apprenticeship programme to your succession plan, especially for hard to recruit for areas. Once you have identified the needs and aim of the apprenticeship, you will have the basis for your apprentice strategy.

Communication is a key element of the strategy, make sure you share the aims of the apprenticeship throughout the business, especially to those the apprentice will be working with, and invite them to get involved at the early stages to help shape the on-site training the apprentice will need to complete.

Remember an apprenticeship is a collaboration between the apprentice, the business and the training provider, don’t put the onus on one element along, they are all vital components of any apprenticeship.

Sue Potter set up SPotter Talent as a consultancy with a vision to create learning cultures within business, and a mission to motivate, inspire and empower people to do things they never thought were possible.

With over 10 years’ experience in leading apprenticeship programmes, Sue is a strong advocate for apprenticeships, and wants to spread the word to non-levy payers that they can tap into the levy funding.

If you would like to find out how Sue can help your business, get in contact with her via email:, telephone 07486 073844 or via her website

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Technology and Innovation in UK Maritime Call- Funding opportunity

In January 2019 the government published the ambitious Maritime 2050 strategy, setting out a long-term vision for the future of the UK maritime sector. The maritime sector is likely to undergo significant changes as technology revolutionises the way the sector operates and environmental concerns create new and more stringent requirements for the maritime industry.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is keen to continue to engage with industry to promote the development of technological innovation in UK maritime. For this reason, the DfT is launching a call of £1M called the Technology and Innovation in UK Maritime Call. The call will fund innovative solutions within mid TRL (TRL 3-7) to demonstrate potential applications for innovative technology or for proof of concept of new ideas in this field. £1M is available for competition, which administered by MarRI-UK.

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