Senior Weld Inspector Paul Stone becomes European Welding Specialist

Anybody with a drive for continuous personal development will be well situated at Hythe Group. This is certainly the case for Paul Stone, a long-standing member of the team, who isn’t planning on putting down the books anytime soon. 

In his latest achievement, Paul Stone, Hythe Marine Services’ (HMS) Senior Welding Inspector, has obtained European Welding Specialist status with The Welding Institute (TWI). 

Having this qualification has given Paul additional industry expertise, allowing him to advise and oversee welding processes and technology. 

We spoke to Paul to find out what went into obtaining this certification, what it means for his career, and the opportunities it creates for HMS as a company. 


Becoming a European Welding Specialist with The Welding Institute 

“TWI is the world’s largest provider of training in non-destructive testing, welding, welding inspection and a host of allied disciplines. Training with TWI leads to internationally recognised qualifications, delivering tangible benefits to individual careers and increasing business capabilities.” – The Welding Institute 

Gaining this internationally recognised qualification isn’t an easy feat. Paul completed five separate modules on-site at TWI, on topics including materials and their behaviour, design, construction, and fabrication. 

As a Senior Weld Inspector, Paul has a considerable amount of experience and industry knowledge of welding. This new qualification expands on his existing expertise, adding an extra layer of assurance for the team and customers of Hythe Marine Services.

Paul explained, “The course without a doubt was valuable to me. I learnt a lot of extra things about different welding processes. It’s good welding knowledge to have for the company and myself, plus I have the course materials for myself and the team to refer back to on future projects.”



How will Paul’s European Welding Specialist Qualification Impact his Career?

When asked about what becoming a European Welding Specialist means for his career, Paul told us, “On a personal level, we always want to try and better ourselves. I actually wish I’d done it twenty years ago. If I had my time again, I would have gone on to become a Welding Engineer.” 

Previously, after obtaining his senior weld inspector certification, Paul stopped going after new development opportunities. But adding this newest string to his bow has kickstarted him to start learning again. 

In true Hythe Group spirit, Paul commented on how his drive to learn sets a good example for the younger staff. They can see from Paul that he’s still wanting to learn new things and continue to develop industry knowledge, encouraging them to follow in his footsteps.

Read more about Paul’s career, expertise, and history with the marine industry in our article Get To Know Hythe Marine Services’ Head of Welding.


What does this Achievement Mean for Hythe Marine Services? 

Having European Welding Specialist status gives potential customers and existing customers confidence that HMS employ people with a strong knowledge of welding processes. 

Having a dedicated workforce that is interested in continual improvement also gives the company assurance in their staff. Soon, Paul is hoping to complete his European Welding Technologist qualification. 

Paul said, “Going back to when I first joined HMS, we were a small team and over that period we’ve grown as a company. We have more welders and plater fabricators that are doing welding tasks, and they’re getting their qualifications as well. I think it’s important for our staff to have official education behind them as it gives potential and existing customers confidence in our work.”

Read about the importance of staff training in our recent news article, Hythe Marine Services Welders Achieve Certified Visual Weld Inspector Status


Personal Development and Training at Hythe Group 

Paul commented that the training staff are put through at Hythe Group is second to none. If a member of staff is interested in doing a course that’s beneficial to the company and the personnel, the senior staff won’t think twice about it. 

HMS and the newer Hythe Group companies are a team of dedicated, driven and empathetic people that are passionate about the work they do. 

Paul demonstrated this unmatchable attitude, as he put the future of the company in the hands of the younger generation.

“All of us that have been here from the start have put in a lot of hard work to get the company where it is. I’m very keen for us to push on for the future, and the younger generation is the future of Hythe Group. Josh Mathias (MD) would tell you the same. We’ve got to try and push the younger generation. If you didn’t have the youngsters coming through and learning the skills of the trades, the company would crumble.”


Interested in quality assured welding services? Speak with our team via the button below. 


From Pipefitting Apprenticeship to Full-Time Pipefitter

Meet Hythe Marine Services’ latest recruit Conor Green

10% of the workforce at Hythe Marine Services (HMS), a marine engineering company, is made up of apprentices. This means the growing workforce pass down decades of in-house knowledge and industry expertise, to pursue Hythe Group’s overall goal of continuous upskilling and development. 

Hythe Group as a whole promote and drive apprenticeships and training through all levels of the business and three Hythe Group companies.

One example of this is Conor Green, who recently went from pipefitting apprentice to full-time pipefitter with Hythe Marine Services. 

What Does a Pipefitter Do?

Usually starting out as juniors or apprentices, pipefitters are skilled tradespeople who install, repair, maintain, assemble, fabricate and test pipe systems. These piping systems will usually include pipework, valves and pumps.

Within the marine engineering industry, pipefitters are a crucial part of the workforce as they are responsible for ship piping systems on naval and commercial vessels. 

What Does a Pipefitter Apprentice Do?

A pipefitter apprenticeship program involves a combination of practical experience within an engineering company and theoretical study with a college or university. 

As well as working towards their certification, pipefitter apprentices gain hands-on experience in the relevant skills required to be a pipefitter. These skills include welding, plating and fitting pipes. 

Depending on the level of the qualification, the apprenticeship will be between 2 and 4 years. 

Meet Conor Green 

We spoke to Conor to find out what his apprenticeship involved, what it’s like to be part of Hythe Group and life as a pipefitter in the marine engineering world. 

pipefitter welding a pipe wearing full protective equipment in a workshop

What Does a Pipefitting Apprenticeship Involve? 

My apprenticeship was four years long and split up into different sections. The first year was in the dockyard completing the Level 2 part of the qualification. Year one was mainly paperwork based with four days in college and one day a week on placement. 

We had lecturers going through each module, and we had different tasks to complete in the workshop to learn the basics of engineering and hand skills. On Friday’s I was with Hythe Marine Services, where I’d get hands-on experience working on jobs with the tradesmen to learn the ropes. 

After that first year, I spent all of my time with Hythe Marine Services getting practical experience. Depending on what jobs were on at the time would determine who I would be working with. I’d go out on jobs with different teams, watching them work and help out, or I’d be in the workshop working on a set task to develop new skills. 

Alongside this, I was completing my Level 3 NVQ in pipefitting which meant I would complete tasks according to the certification requirements, take photos and complete write-ups to document what I’d done. 

In the fourth year of my apprenticeship, I’d completed all the necessary qualifications which meant I could spend my time solely gaining knowledge and getting hands-on experience with the tools and learning from my mentor. 

This was my favourite year of my pipefitting apprenticeship as I could focus on the skill of the trade rather than having to worry about the paperwork. 

Why Did You Choose to Be a Pipefitter? 

I wanted to carry on with further education but I didn’t like the idea of just going to college. I went to some open-evenings in colleges and at the dockyard to learn about the available apprenticeships. Hythe Marine Services were there and I liked the idea of learning on the job and getting experience whilst being paid. 

I chose pipefitting specifically because I liked the idea of getting to learn different skills like plating, welding and engineering. 

What Was Your Favourite Project You Worked on?

During my pipefitting apprenticeship in Portsmouth, I got to work on loads of different jobs. The one I most enjoyed was in the 2nd year of my apprenticeship at Southampton General Hospital. 

Myself and a group of pipefitters went to rip-out and reinstall a brand new piping system in the boiler house at the hospital. 

I got to be on the job from start to finish so I saw all the aspects that went into the project, such as getting the materials, planning the installation and the piping itself. 

The boiler house was still powering Southampton General Hospital, so we had to work to strict timeframes. If we needed to rip a pipe out, the boilers would get turned off so there were only certain windows we could work within. 

We had to plan the day to the exact hour. For example, we would only have about a 3-hour window to complete a task because that’s how long the boiler could be off for. We had to plan during the days leading up to it how the job would be done, and complete all the pre-fab to ensure the pipes are fitted. This was so when the boilers were switched off we knew we weren’t going to overshoot it and cause major problems for the hospital. 

I liked the aspect of planning and getting to see a long-term job from start to finish, and the tape-off of the project and the final handover.

marine engineer pipefitting and welding inside a pipe

What Advice Would You Give to Somebody Considering a Hythe Group Apprenticeship?

I would highly recommend it. When you go to college it’s all done by the book and it’s not real life. By doing an apprenticeship, you actually get to see what it’s like because you’re on the job. You might go to college and you might love it but when you get to the job it could be completely different. When you’re learning on an apprenticeship you see what it’s actually like and get to gauge whether it’s right for you. 

I chose to stay on with Hythe Marine Services because they’re a friendly company to work for and I know the procedures, rules and how things go. After four years working with the team, I get on with them all and know them really well. I feel like there are still things I can learn and experience to get and knowledge I can gain.

What’s Your New Role?

Now I’ve got my Level 3 NVQ diploma, I’m now a qualified pipefitter. In my new role, I’ll now be getting very hands-on with all the tasks, gaining more confidence and experience in my trade. 

I’ll be doing various different jobs in the trade, by myself and with others. Now I’m fully qualified it’s about getting more experience and tying everything together. 

In the long term, my goal is to cement myself as a valued member at the core of Hythe Marine Services. 

How to Become a Pipefitter Apprentice with HMS

Find out more about our apprenticeships, including pipefitter apprenticeship jobs, via our Apprenticeships page.

Or, you can read more about what it’s like to be an HMS apprentice from our interview with Hythe Marine Services apprentice Tyrrell Ford.

A careers starter: Hythe Marine Services apprenticeship scheme

Hythe Group apprentice scheme

An interview with Hythe Marine Services apprentice Tyrrell Ford. Take a look behind the scenes into the life of an HMS apprentice.


About Hythe Marine Services

Hythe Marine Services (HMS) is the leading turnkey provider of engineering, fabrication and repair services to the marine, civil engineering and waste management sectors. They currently employ 10% of their workforce as apprentices across different trades within the business, which includes pipe fitting, welding, light and heavy fabrication and hands on machining, to name a few.

We spoke with Tyrrell Ford who is currently participating in the apprenticeship scheme to find out more about his experience with Hythe Marine Services.


How did you find out about the Hythe Marine apprenticeship scheme?

I was in full time education studying Marine Engineering and as part of my course I had to complete a weeks’ work experience. I contacted Hythe Marine Services, who offered me the experience for five days and at the end of that time they suggested I join them on their apprenticeship scheme. As I was still completing my course, they worked with me to ensure that I could finish it, allowing me time off when needed to complete my studies.


 What interested you in the Hythe Marine apprenticeship scheme?

I was in the workshop with the teams for that initial week and saw what went on behind the scenes. I was made to feel like a part of the family within that first week and was able to get an insight into all the different trades, after that I knew I wanted to be part of the Hythe team.


What have been the highlights of the apprenticeship scheme for you?

There are so many highlights, I don’t know where to start. One of the important life skills I have learnt is how to work well within a team. As an independent family run business, I found that all staff and managers are very dedicated to making the apprenticeship a success, both as a scheme and for each individual. Everyone has spent so much time with me ensuring that I have the skills required to tackle all projects.

They supported, and paid, for me to complete driving lessons during work time and paid for my driving test too. Clearly this is a benefit to the company going forward but also a hugely independent step for me and the other apprentices.

As well as learning all the skills required for fabrication and welding, Hythe Marine Services are now supporting me through my 3.0 CSWIP welding inspection course, designed for welders who carry out the visual examination of welded joints. The apprenticeship is linked to NVQ and City & Guilds qualifications, with training in partnership with Highbury College, Southampton University, PETA and BAE Systems, so I will complete the apprenticeship with lots of knowledge and new qualifications.


What is your normal day like on the apprenticeship scheme?

Every day is different, there are different jobs going on at all times, some are long-term projects and others are shorter one-off tasks. One of the most interesting jobs I take part in is weld tests on different materials to see what passes and fails. Thanks to this apprenticeship I am skilled in dealing with a large variety of materials.

This training has also enabled me to conduct 6G pipe tests on the Type 45 Royal Navy vessels, guided missile destroyers. Some days, I can’t believe this is my job!

Many staff at Hythe Marine have been there for quite a few years and they’re all very encouraging of the scheme and not at all threatened by us young newcomers. They seem to be so happy to share their knowledge.


What is your plan post apprenticeship?

I started my apprenticeship in 2017 and it’s a three year scheme. After completing the apprenticeship, I am guaranteed a job with the team. Our main base is in Portsmouth and at the moment I am mainly based there, because of the time I need to spend at college, but it is normal to spend time on some of the other sites too, like Rosyth and Barrow.

I am planning to stay at Hythe for as long as possible as they are very keen to highlight capabilities and push you to be the best that you can be. I imagine the future will involve welding expansion courses, as I have taken a real interest in the welding side of the business.

As part of the apprenticeship we attend first aid and health and safety training and in the future I may complete a safety management courses as well.

I really enjoy doing the scheme, I like being hands-on with things and would rather be earning money whilst I am learning. There are lots of staff at Hythe that have been here for a long time and each one of them has  provided a huge amount of support for me, it’s a family run business and we all feel like a part of it.

I would like to eventually give something back to Hythe by supporting future generations of apprentices.


Join the Hythe Apprenticeship Scheme

If you’re interested in becoming a Hythe Marine apprentice simply get in touch with our team via our website. In your email enclose a copy of your CV along with an outline of what you are interested in doing. We also need you to provide a point of contact, a brief description of how you heard about us and why you want to do an apprenticeship with Hythe Marine in particular.

Upon review of your application a member of our team will get in touch. The next steps would be to bring you in for a week to a month to give you a proper understanding of what you will be signing up for, in addition, this helps us to get to know you better. After this process, if all is a good fit, you could be looking at being our next apprentice!

I was made to feel like a part of the family within that first week and was able to get an insight into all the different trades, after that I knew I wanted to be a part of the Hythe Team.