Day two of Lifeskills National Careers Week and RYA Dinghy and Windsurfing Chief Instructor, Amanda Van Santen tells us about an exciting new project on the Isle of Wight offering a Watersports career pathway.

Many people take up Watersports as hobby. But, for those hoping to pursue a career in the industry, the training can be expensive!  However, a new project is helping youngsters to follow their aspirations.  

There are many training centres in the UK and Overseas offering the opportunity to train for industry qualifications or potentially as instructors. But if you have little experience, one of the barriers to many people wishing to pursue a career in Watersports can be the cost of the initial training.  

If you don't belong to a club or already participate in the sport, setting off from scratch can be a daunting and expensive prospect, therefore creating a barrier to entry for many of us for whom watersports could prove to be the perfect career choice.  

For those of us who aren't suited to university style study, it can be tough to make the right choices, ensuring you become qualified in a career with appealing employment paths.  

As a keen water person and a lover of the outdoors, I was one of those people and having now been in the industry for over 18 years I can't thank enough those people I met along the way who helped me train and gave me advice as well as opportunities.  

But this isn't about my career, this is about an amazing opportunity UKSA (United Kingdom Sailing Academy) is able to provide for others who find themselves in a similar situation, especially those seeking further education options and employment. 

During a meeting I recently attended I managed to grab a few minutes with UKSAs CEO, Richard Thornton,  and was able to hear first-hand about an amazing project they were about to embark on for young people.

Thanks to funding through the Isle of Wight College and UKSA's work with national awarding body Active IQ, they are able to offer a 'Watersports Instructor Training Diploma' free or part-funded for the right candidates. This is a unique and fantastic opportunity which means UKSA are able to offer access not only to a watersports career course, but the funding as well.  

With the ability to gain a vocational qualification as well as leading industry NGB awards, this really is an exceptional break, eliminating  barriers for young people with an aspiration to work in the industry.

Open to young people aged 19-24, this Diploma offers the chance to access training as part of their education or career development, with up to 50 students a year benefiting.  

The nine-week course covers four-disciplines; dinghy sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding, providing students with the perfect start in the watersports industry.

UKSA are working with leading industry employers such as Neilson, Mark Warner, Sunsail and Ocean Elements, enabling them to provide valuable assistance to course participants in searching for jobs upon completion of the course.

Nicholas Blyth of the Isle of Wight was a student who attended the pilot course, at the age of 19. Having heard about the diploma through the careers office at UKSA. He had completed previous training with UKSA and applied for the diploma successfully securing a place.

"The course was a very intensive process and there was a steep learning curve - but it was a truly life changing experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The course vastly improved my leadership and team work skills and I have become a more confident person. This course has enabled me to find employment at UKSA as a Watersports Instructor. The completion of this course is not reliant on your educational standard, it's reliant on your watersports ability. I certainly would recommend this course to anybody with a watersports interest whether you're a novice or expert", commented Nicholas.

Sound interesting?

To be eligible, you must be aged 19-24 at the start of the course. If you already hold a Level 2 qualification or higher you should still be eligible for 50% funding, otherwise, if you are unemployed and have no Level 2 qualifications, you may qualify for full funding.   

The diploma and funding doesn't include food or accommodation, but this is available through UKSA and there is also a small cost to join the relevant National Governing Bodies such as the RYA for the instructor qualifications you are gaining.

Heather Harding, a mother to one of the students commented: "His feet didn't touch the ground and he totally engaged with the whole process. With help and guidance from the instructor the team he got to the end and we were so proud of his achievements. WIT is not just about the qualifications, it's about personal growth and a sense of purpose, and believing that you can. The instructors were amazingly supportive and as a parent I felt I could pick up the phone any time to any of the tutors involved."

If you have no watersports experience, but are still interested in applying for the opportunity, UKSA suggest you take their two-week 'Kickstart' course, to start you on the right track.    

Chris Frisby, Head of Operations at UKSA, said: "This is an incredible opportunity for anyone serious about starting a career in watersports. They will qualify in four Watersports disciplines, making them highly employable. We will also guide them in the right direction through our in-house mentoring and careers service. It really is the best start they can get.    

"To be able to forge an entirely new career with very little financial outlay is life-changing for many young adults. We are delighted to be offering this opportunity at UKSA.  

Island MP Andrew Turner added: "There are jobs out there for young people, but often there seem to be invisible barriers to them, and what I like about UKSA is that as a charity it breaks down those barriers and lets young people through. Any young person interested in an active way-of-life and a lifestyle type of job should take a look at this incredible opportunity to change their life."  

As a funded course, there is a selection process and anyone interested should call UKSA's sales team on 01983 203038 or email to find out more.

More detail about the course and the funding options can be found on   

(Article first published - RYA Magazine, Winter 2014)  

LifeSkills National Careers Week 02-06 March

Throughout the week the RYA will be sharing articles and profiles on a whole host of careers within the marine industry.  Make sure you visit the RYA website, Facebook page, or Twitter @rya for all the latest stories.  

For more information about RYA Training Courses and Careers Advice visit

For more information about National Careers Week visit or follow on Twitter @NCW2015


RYA Working with Water contains everything you need to know about working in any area of the vast Watersports industry, whether it is as dinghy instructor, sail maker or lock keeper.  Written by marine journalist Jeremy Evans, RYA Working with Water provides advice for Watersports enthusiasts, whether they are looking for a gap-year pastime or a new career.  

For more information or to purchase your copy - RYA Working with Water    


Visit us on Twitter @rya and tell us what your dream marine job is with the hashtag #dreammarinejob and everyday throughout the week we'll pick a winner.