UKSA’s ‘Skills for Life’ measurement sees significant improvements for students learning about maritime training and careers
7 December 2023
by British Marine

UKSA is reporting almost 78 per cent improvement across its six ‘Skills for Life’ framework for students taking part in its funded Sea.Change Foundation programme, an inspirational five-day residential programme for teenagers across the UK to learn about training and careers in the maritime sector.

The ‘Skills for Life’ which include communication, decision making, teamwork, self-belief, determination and resilience are deemed essential in a young person’s overall personal development. 

The Sea.Change Foundation programme is offered to 14–17-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds and runs during the school holidays. It offers the chance to learn more about training and working in the maritime industry or in watersports, leading to roles such as superyacht deck officers and crew, naval and merchant seaman, watersports instructors and yacht skippers. Students experience a wide range of exciting water-based activities including dinghy sailing, sea survival, power boating, keel boating and stand-up paddleboarding. The programme also includes shore-based sessions, which enables the students to learn more about careers options and speak to UKSA’s industry guidance team.

The Skills for Life are measured at the end of their stay with UKSA’s most recent results demonstrating that 83 per cent improved their self-belief, 81 per cent were more determined than when they started, 80 per cent saw an improvement in their participation, 76 per cent are more resilient, 72 per cent have improved their decision making and also 72 per cent felt their communication had improved. 

To measure the experience and six skills, students are presented with statements in a fun format for them to agree or disagree with. In addition to this and specifically for Sea.Change students, 80 per cent said following their course they have a greater understanding of the careers available in the maritime industry and 56 per cent would consider a career in maritime.

Ben Willows, CEO at UKSA said: “Our Sea.Change Foundation Programme provides an opportunity for young people to have fun, be adventurous and learn new practical skills which pushes them out of their comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment, while finding out about the potential of a maritime career. UKSA is incredibly passionate about providing these opportunities to the young people that need it most. The need is growing and it’s only with continued financial support that we are able to help more young people fulfil their potential. It’s great to see such improvement with our Skills for Life data and it further supports that we are on the right path to making a difference to those who visit us and making a lifelong impact on their future.” 

Neil Mackintosh, head of social mobility at Tile Cross Academy in Birmingham, which has facilitated several trips to UKSA for its students thanks to UKSA’s funding options said: “The wide variety of activities the students got to participate in and the detailed careers advice and education regarding the opportunities in the maritime industry leaves no doubt that it has broadened their horizons and raised their aspirations. A significant number now have their sights set on maritime careers including as chefs and superyacht skippers!” 

Following completion of the Sea.Change Foundation Programmes, UKSA offers students two further education choices available as part of its pathway options, which are the NCFE (Level 3 Diploma) for its Maritime Advanced Programme and The Maritime Foundation NCFE (Level 3 Introductory Certificate). These courses provide young people with the foundations needed to then access UKSA’s career training programmes. 

Ben continued: “Of the 690 students which have completed the Sea.Change programme in the last 18 months, 32 have continued their journey with UKSA and enrolled on further education or careers courses with ambitions of a career within the maritime industry, having never known these choices existed prior to visiting us, which is fantastic.”

The data is derived from the responses of 244 students across 13 courses between April and September of 2023. In 2022, UKSA funded 296 Sea.Change beneficiaries, rising to almost 500 in 2023, with the charity’s goal to fund 800 young people in 2024.

To find out more about UKSA and the Skills for Life framework, or if you are interested in providing funding towards the Sea.Change Foundation Programme, please visit