Members of the CMN team
Cornwall Marine Network (CMN) is on course to deliver some £3 million worth of contracts over the coming two years. "We've survived the prolonged funding gap intact and our bid writers have used the time to target new funds that will support our marine businesses and their objectives." said Paul Wickes, Chief Executive of CMN.
"Whilst Brexit uncertainty is unsettling daily life we're approaching this forthcoming period certain in the knowledge that we've maximised all avenues so our sector can prosper from remaining and new funds."
Without spilling the beans before any new projects are officially launched our members can expect to see new support that focuses on improving marketing and boosting productivity across all business operations. It will also include the opportunity for financial assistance through a grants programme. Other contracts will support high level innovation, employee training (including Apprenticeships), working with schools and local communities to raise awareness of the opportunities of careers in the Cornish marine sector plus an opportunity for young apprentices to experience boat building abroad.
"It's an exciting period for us and the sector right now; we'll shortly be recruiting to put the teams in place and then announcing the projects at the beginning of 2017." said Wickes.
All this builds upon the CMN track record that has seen more than £20 million invested in marine, 3,000 people assisted into employment with an estimated £200 million beneficial impact on the Cornwall economy since 2005.
A significant project is CMN's £1.86 million marine capital fund - a delegated Regional Growth Fund grant programme that is creating 158 new jobs. 39 of these new jobs will be at the industrial marine contractor Keynvor MorLift (KML). "Our purchase of Falmouth Wharves was made possible by the investment through Cornwall Marine Network." said Diccon Rogers, MD of KML. "The deep water wharves at Falmouth will be a superb base for our local operations and a launch pad for projects further afield. The location and all-tide access will help us to better serve customers who require a rapid response particularly along the South coast, for example salvaging vessels. The site is also vital for supporting other marine sectors including marine renewable energy."
Business support at CMN is also focused on the micro and small businesses that form a large contingent of CMN's membership. One and all is certainly the culture of CMN and Tracey Boyne of Mylor Sailing School can testify to this: "I am using CMN's marketing mentoring to help improve my overall marketing of the sailing school, specifically focusing on our digital campaigns. I have regular mentoring sessions during the winter which I have found really helpful in growing my business."
The CMN story began in 2002 when amazingly the estimated £500 million per annum GDP contributing sector was not recognised as a priority or an important contributor to Cornwall's economy. At this time, approximately 80 businesses gathered at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth and voted on what kind of network organisation they would like to see. It was then thanks to Michael Brougham, CMN's current chairman, to take the evidence and write the original Objective One application that underpinned the Network's recruitment of its first full-time employees in 2005.
It's important to note that two overwhelming business needs arose from that original meeting that are still priorities for the Network today: the need for marketing support and the need for high quality skills.
CMN's strategy for supporting skills is far reaching, it includes many programmes of work that broadly fit into three key categories: working with and up-skilling the existing workforce, facilitating training for those who are beginning a marine career, and lastly (but not least) to raise awareness about the opportunities and rewards of a career in marine particularly among Cornwall's young.
During the winter, typically an off peak time for the sector, CMN's office is often buzzing with member employees attending workshops in the IT suite or in the conference room. Subjects range from marketing your small business to how to ensure your business is effectively safe-guarding children. "It's all driven by employer need..." reinforces Wickes, "the majority of our project income is retrospective, if we get it wrong and the members don't come, then we don't get paid!"
The apprenticeships' programme at Cornwall Marine Network is run through its subsidiary the Cornwall Apprenticeship Agency (CAA). The Agency was setup to benefit from being a licensed ‘Apprenticeship Training Agency' so that it could offer services that reduce the risks associated with taking on an apprentice, for example, the Agency can employ the apprentice on behalf of the business, or even facilitate the sharing of apprentices. Since its launch in 2013, the CAA has supported more than 1,150 apprentices into work.
CMN's Marine Academy works directly with schools and the sector's youngest recruits. With the support of our member businesses 60 industry ambassadors have shared marine career information to more than 30,000 local young people since CMN started. During September we welcomed 16 young local people on to funded Level 1 marine engineering and boat building courses that will provide them with life-long skills and give them a real taste of what it is like to work in the sector. As this article is written the CMN team are working hard promoting the sector to young people at the Cornwall Skills Show.
"If they can't come to us, then we'll go to them..." was a recent mantra from a project that built two boats in a marquee on the Treneere Estate in Penzance. Funded through DCH, the CMN team engaged with residents of all ages with the objective of building two 7' dinghies during June. Participants also got an opportunity to meet the marine ambassadors to learn about careers. The boats were then launched at a special ceremony at the harbour - "It was a true feat of marine focused community spirit and has inspired the imaginations of those that participated." said Dave Martin, CMN's Marine Quality Assurance and Training Advisor.
"We're greatly looking forward to 2017, the funding gap was challenging but the network rallied and we're now through to renewed growth and hopefully slightly calmer seas whilst continuing to serve our members." concludes Wickes. "On top of the £3 million that we're contracted to deliver we're still awaiting the answer on a further £1.5 million of bids we have been short-listed for. Post Brexit we are increasingly confident we can raise non-EU funds as we already have a track record of contracts direct with Government and other funding organisations. I'd like to say a special thank you to our marine members for their enduring support, the specialist team that have stayed with CMN and our funders and other partners, in particular Cornwall Council who have been a huge support to enable CMN in turn to keep supporting local marine businesses, especially during the difficult times. Bring on 2017, the challenges of Brexit, and expect new and great things from CMN."
Copyright 2011 Cornwall Marine Network
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