Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mariners Union Call For Greater Government Support in Funding Training and Recruitment

Nautilus Points Out Investment is Benefit for the Country
Shipping News Feature
UK – The maritime professionals' union Nautilus International has called for the Chancellor to take action in the Budget to improve the UK's Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme, highlighting a promise from ship owners' to boost jobs in the sector if the government increases its investment.

In letters to the Chancellor and the shipping minister ahead of the Budget, Nautilus pointed to a ‘watertight’ case for implementing the SMarT-Plus package jointly proposed by the Union and the UK Chamber of Shipping. Nautilus General Secretary, Mark Dickinson, wrote:

“For an island nation, relying on the sea for 95% of its trade, shipping is an essential industry. Seafarers are also vital for the safe and efficient operation of ships, and their skills and experience are also crucial for the future prosperity of the world-leading maritime services provided by the UK.”

Dickinson pointed out to ministers that the SMarT-Plus package would cost little more than a mile of new motorway, yet would ensure a sustainable supply of British seafarers – something that will be of increasing importance in the post-Brexit environment.

“The current SMarT scheme has a £15m budget and has done much to reverse what had been a catastrophic decline in the numbers of UK trainee seafarer during the 1980s and early 90s.

“While annual officer cadet numbers have risen from under 500 to around 800 since then, the intake is still woefully short of the numbers needed to meet future needs, to make up ground from the low training levels of previous decades, and to redress what could be a dramatic reduction in numbers in the years ahead as the average age of the existing seafarer population increases.”

Dickinson noted that ship owners had made it clear there is no shortage of high quality applicants for the limited number of training positions which are available each year. However, the reduction in the value of the existing SMarT scheme means that the UK has become one of the most expensive countries in the world in which to train a seafarer.

He also pointed out that the government’s own review of the scheme had supported the case for doubling the current SMarT budget. Dickinson continued:

“This should be seen as an investment by the nation – with the government’s own research showing that seafarers contribute £17,500 more to the economy than the average worker and that for every £1 spent on seafarer training there is a return of £4.80 to the national economy.

“In 2015, the government’s Maritime Growth Study highlighted the huge economic, social and strategic contribution made by the UK maritime sector, but warned that this could be severely undermined without a strong pool of seafaring expertise. More than two years on, it is essential that the Study’s recommendations are acted upon and we trust that this year’s Budget will provide the desperately-needed catalyst to safeguard our country’s seafaring future.”