UK Chamber CEO Guy Platten has responded to the publication of the Department for Transport Seafarer Projections Review by calling on government to back its SMarT Plus proposal.
The Department for Transport has this week published a study to assess the UK supply and demand for trained seafarers to fulfill roles at sea and onshore over the coming decade.
The UK Seafarer Projections study identified a shortage of 3,000- 4,000 UK deck and engine officers, and 2,000 UK ratings by 2026. The report suggests that in order to avoid the shortfall the annual intake of UK officer trainees would need to more than double.
Commenting on the findings, CEO Guy Platten commented, “This report highlights the need for decisive action if the future of the UK seafaring skills base is to be secured.
“That is why we have called for increased support for maritime training and have presented the government with the SMarT Plus proposals that would create thousands of seafaring jobs for young people in the UK.
“The industry is united in its call for government action, and we urge the government to seize this opportunity, before it is too late.”
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.
Guy added, “We know, through working with employers and unions across the sector that we face the combined challenges of an aging workforce and shortfall in newly trained UK officers and ratings entering the industry. Our members have told us they want to provide more training opportunities and we know that there is no shortage of demand from young people looking for a career at sea and with increased support from Government thousands of jobs can be created in the years ahead.
"It is quite simply, a no-brainer."
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.