Driving diversity in the superyacht industry
The new Edmiston Foundation will provide young and disadvantaged groups with the opportunity to forge careers in the maritime industry.
The UK has long been a world leader in the maritime industry, where excellent employment opportunities can lead to long-lasting and fulfilling careers for young people. For those from minority communities and low-socioeconomic groups, though, in particular those living in inner-city areas, these opportunities are far less likely to appear. The result? A knock-on effect in terms of representation across the industry. Enter the Edmiston Foundation, formed to kick-start positive change in this area.
“We intend to proactively remove barriers and provide accessible opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, supporting them throughout their career journey,” explains Jamie Edmiston, CEO. “It is my hope that this new initiative will deliver opportunities to young people from all walks of life.”
Edmiston, which specialises in the sale, charter and management of superyachts, intends to do this via a partnership with UKSA (United Kingdom Sailing Academy). “We felt that UKSA were a very well-placed partner to deliver world-class training and also had a lot of existing relationships with organisations like The Prince’s Trust that already work with underprivileged children,” says Alex Holden, strategy director at Edmiston. “We felt that they were on point to work quickly and effectively if we were able to bring a significant amount of money.” With over 30 years of experience and training under their belt, and 10,000 young people welcomed through their doors every year, it certainly seems like a fair assumption.
“Our renowned instructors have considerable experience of working with young people from all walks of life,” adds Ben Willows, chief executive at UKSA. “We take a unique approach to learning at UKSA and believe that time spent with us is as much about learning skills and gaining qualifications as it is about honing your interpersonal skills and developing confidence. Our holistic approach to learning gives our students the real skills needed to enter the workplace, and the confidence to continue developing a career in the future.”
So far, so promising. Edmiston has provided an initial endowment of £120,000 to deliver training for more than 200 young people per year, with a five-year goal to raise £1 million, to train up to 1,200 young people from across the globe.
So what will the training actually entail? “There’s a range of training, starting from a one-week course for school-age children who maybe haven’t been away from home before or had an experience on the water,” says Holden. “They will go down to UKSA in Cowes for a two- or three-night residential course, get a feel for what it’s all like and possibly have their eyes opened to some of the opportunities that are there that maybe they never would otherwise have come across.”
In addition to the shorter course, there will also be a five-week course, mirroring the standard UKSA three-week crew training course but crucially, adding additional modules including industry familiarisation, cultural integration and career development. As well as offering financial support, Edmiston is helping to provide content for these courses and getting involved in the student selection process.
“The foundation is something we’ve been discussing for about 18 months and we were just about to launch it when coronavirus started,” says Holden. “We put it on hold and then around May we decided to reinvigorate it.” A pilot of the programme was already delivered in October, supported by The Prince’s Trust, and the full programme will kick off in the spring of 2021.
There are hopes that the reach of the Edmiston Foundation will extend far beyond the training courses in time. “It has been set up as an umbrella to have specific activations going on underneath it,” explains Holden. “The other main pillar we’ve identified is an environmental one and we’re currently working out how we are going to activate that and who with.”
“This is the first small step, and I hope that in due course we can widen this initiative and help young people forge careers in the wider yachting industry – as designers, engineers, yacht brokers or senior officers on board yachts,” adds Jamie Edmiston.