The UK Chamber of Shipping, with backing from 40 shipping companies, has this week written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, asking the Government to double the amount of funding available for seafarer training as soon as possible.
The letter was also sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond and the Minister of State, Department for Transport, John Hayes.
The UK Chamber, in conjunction with Nautilus International, has submitted a proposal for the Government's existing Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme to be extended.
“The Government’s review of SMarT recognised that change was necessary and recommended the level of support should increase from £15 million to around £30 million annually, to be competitive with other European Countries’ training,” the UK Chamber’s president, Dr Grahaeme Henderson, writes in the letter.
The SMarT Plus proposal, as it is known, would see additional Government support to cover the costs of training seafarers.
UK shipping companies would also undertake to employ their newly qualified officers for a sufficient period to enable them to attain the higher level Certificate of Competencies.
Big-name multinationals like Anglo Eastern Group; BP Shipping, Shell Shipping & Maritime and Maersk Crewing are among the 40 shipping companies that have backed the letter.
“The Government has a vision of a Global Britain and shipping is willing and able to play its part in achieving this. SMarT Plus provides an opportunity for the Government to prove it is serious in its ambition for the industry, the economy, and for the British people,” writes Dr Henderson, who is Shell’s vice-president for shipping and marine.
Guy Platten, the UK Chamber’s CEO, said of the letter: “The Chamber sees this as a real opportunity to increase career prospects for young people.
“It’s great that so many companies have backed this letter. This shows the UK shipping industry has the willingness and the appetite to make the proposal work. Ultimately, the proposal will boost employment at sea for UK seafarers and create more skilled workers, which in time will benefit the wider maritime sector.”
Nautilus this week sent its own letter to Government, asking for the findings of the SMarT review to be implemented.