Pendennis apprenticeship scheme wins national award

Pendennis was recognised at the FE Week and AELP AAC Apprenticeship Awards last week, receiving the award for “Apprentice Employer of the Year” in the Small Employer category. Joint Managing Director Toby Allies explained; “The national award recognises organisations with an outstanding commitment to apprentices and apprenticeships, so we are honoured to have been selected – it’s a fantastic reward for all of our staff, whose dedication and passion makes our apprenticeships what they are. Our strongest asset is our team, and with a healthy forward order book we’re currently actively recruiting across all trades, to expand our workforce and keep up with increasing client demand for superyacht services in Falmouth.”

The award win coincided with Pendennis welcoming 14 new apprentices to their General Engineering Apprenticeship scheme in the first week of July. Training Manager Steve Hancock was keen to highlight the achievement of each of the new candidates; “Each apprentice has had to work extremely hard to gain their place on the scheme amongst tough competition, so congratulations to them all for their fantastic achievement – we wish them all the best as they embark on this exciting journey. We’re very proud to welcome them in to the Pendennis family.”

As part of the apprenticeship scheme, Pendennis apprentices are encouraged to participate in and contribute to local community support initiatives. Over the past few months a team of apprentices has been working to create custom furniture for a newly built race office at Flushing Sailing Club, as part of the long-running total redevelopment of their clubhouse. The bespoke furniture was one of several donations from local businesses which helped provide finishing touches to the building.

The voluntary project provided an exciting opportunity for Pendennis’ apprentices to hone their skills in a new setting as well as to try their hand at project planning. Joinery apprentices Flinn and Caius worked with Flushing Sailing Club to establish a design for the furniture required which they then developed, built and installed.

Flinn explained how he and Caius developed their design; “The brief the club gave us was for two desks with the necessary equipment built in, plus various custom storage solutions including stowage for race flags. They could give us an architect’s drawing of the building but not one with detailed measurements, and we wanted to create custom furniture that fit the shape of the room exactly rather than standard shapes. Our process included taking our own measurements to make CAD drawings and also building templates out of ply which we could use to check the fit, adjusting our drawings as needed afterwards to ensure the dimensions of our finished pieces would be exact. Once we had these precise measurements we were also able to design a cutting plan for all our pieces to ensure we got the best use of materials without wastage.“

The apprentices enjoyed the chance to problem solve and try out new skills, Flinn continued; “There were quite a few technical elements to the build which allowed us to really challenge ourselves. The most difficult aspect of the fit was that the ceiling slopes in two directions, so we had to design, measure, cut and fit with precision. One of the technical elements of the build was the flag stowage, a grid of small shelves creating many joints which had to perfectly align. We had to be very careful when assembling, using lots of clamps and careful taping to avoid glue squeezing out and affecting the final finish. Also, the curve of the side panels would have made the natural wood grain change direction, so we added steam bent strips to the edges which allowed us to keep it all in the same direction for a neater finish. We decided to inlay the cabinet doors with FSC’s logo using CNC cutting and resin, using a heat gun to take out any air bubbles after the resin pour for a perfect finish and sanding at the end for high shine.”

Surface finishing apprentices Ewan and Tim took charge of the finish of the pieces before assembly, building up layers of primer on each piece, sanding and coating with varnish. Some elements were varnished by hand due to their complex nature. Ewan told us; “This was a great chance for me to develop new skills in interior finishing as I had previously focused mostly on exterior paint. The materials involved mean it is necessary to work quickly but carefully. I discovered early on that too many items in the spray booth at a time affected the quality of the finish I could achieve, but I didn’t want to cause delays to the install – I needed to plan carefully to achieve the right balance of efficiency and quality. It felt really good to be given the responsibility of a job like this and to feel trusted to do the job well.”

Flinn also enjoyed the enhanced responsibility; “Seeing the project through from start to finish was very satisfying, working on the design and taking care of the planning ourselves, where usually we are given a drawing and lots of direction. I did feel a lot of pride seeing the finished furniture after putting so much thought into getting it right, on aspects like achieving a perfect fit on the compound angles and making sure all the wood grain followed the same direction – it was satisfying to see our attention to detail pay off. We kept the resin logos as a surprise to the club members, and when the finished room was unveiled and we could see that the furniture exceeded their expectations, that was a great feeling.”

Flushing Sailing Club’s Dave Owens praised the apprentices’ work and attitude; “What really impressed the experienced FSC Build Team was the skill level of these young apprentices, their sheer enthusiasm and their attention to detail.  They also demonstrated a very strong ability to listen to the ‘client’ and add value with their own enthusiastic input and ideas. This team was absolutely top drawer, a pleasure to work with and a real credit both to Pendennis’ apprenticeship scheme and Cornish maritime skills.”