News: 1000s of jobs could be created through new SMarT+ scheme

The UK shipping industry will create thousands of jobs for young people if Government increases funding for seafarer training, the UK Chamber of Shipping and Nautilus have said.

The industry trains around 800 new cadets each year, but this could increase to 1200 under a new industry proposal that would see shipowners commit to employing cadets after their training is completed.

Major employers including Shell and Carnival have already committed to the scheme.

The scheme, documented in a business case presented to the Department for Transport and developed by the UK Chamber of Shipping, Merchant Navy Training Board and Nautilus International, calls for the Government to double seafarer training funding from £15m to £30m. 

At present, Government’s Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) stands at £15m, and has been responsible for significantly increasing the number of cadetships available.  But the UK is believed the be the second most expensive place in the world to train a seafarer, and whilst SMarT covered 50% of the training costs in the late 1990s, today it covers barely a third, with the remainder paid for by shipowners.  The business case highlights how the economic value of a seafarer to the UK economy is £58,000, up to £17,500 higher than the national average.  It also concludes that Government’s £15m investment delivers a £70m annual yield that could be scaled up with additional investment. The paper also highlights how there are 2 credible candidates for every cadetship offered, proving there is no shortage of supply of UK and UK-based citizens wanting a career at sea.

Guy Platten, CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping said:

‘We are seeking a very small increase in Government’s cash contribution to seafarer training.  In return we are promising huge economic benefits and job creation over the long term.  There are young people who want to go to sea, and there are companies who want to employ them. This is a no-brainer.  With better support from Government we can create thousands of jobs in the next few years.

‘Shipping is a meritocratic industry.  People from all backgrounds are given tremendous opportunities at sea.  If the government is serious about building a country that works for all – we are ready and waiting to help her.’

Mark Dickinson, General Secretary of seafarer trade union Nautilus International said:

‘Shipping is an essential industry for an island nation and seafarers are essential for safe, efficient and quality shipping operations. A long-term decline in UK seafarer numbers has potentially catastrophic consequences for the country and we urgently need to rebuild the maritime skills base if we are to avoid serious damage to the nation’s economic and strategic interests.

‘The support we are seeking is a drop in the ocean – it would amount to less than the cost of building a mile of motorway – yet our analysis shows that it would be repaid many times over with the creation of thousands of quality jobs, at sea and ashore in the wider maritime cluster.

‘The industry is united in its call for government action, and we urge the government to seize this opportunity. We desperately need a new generation of British seafarers and we believe SMarT Plus would ensure that we recruit the numbers needed to keep the UK as one of the world’s major maritime centres.’