More than 400 extra cadets will be trained in maritime roles every year thanks to a £15 million funding boost announced by Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani.
The investment, which will double the support for young people to £30 million a year, will be offered through Support for Maritime Training (SMarT), enabling the annual intake of cadets to rise from 750 to 1,200.
Multinational shipping companies, including Carnival UK, BP, Shell, Maersk and Stena Line, have also pledged to create an extra 450 training positions on board ships.
These positions will give SMarT cadets the experience at sea that will help them gain internationally recognised qualifications, setting them in good stead for future careers both within and outside the sector.
This commitment comes shortly after the launch of the Year of Engineering, a campaign to show young people from all backgrounds the variety and opportunities an engineering career can bring.
Shipping and ports are critical to supplying the UK’s daily needs, with around 95% of imports and exports coming by sea, including 40% of our food and at least a quarter of our energy.
By supporting young people wanting to get into maritime, we will boost a growing sector, ensuring that the UK remains the first port of call for shipping companies seeking highly skilled officers.
UK Chamber of Shipping Chief Executive Guy Platten said:
Nothing will prove that the UK is open for business quite like seeing more British seafarers arrive in the world’s ports. We already recruit people from all backgrounds and all corners of the country, and with this new investment we will be able to create thousands of new opportunities in the years ahead.
The taxpayer sees a £5 return on every £1 it invests in seafarer training, so this funding will see the economy and the workforce, as well as the industry better off.
Seafarers are highly skilled and well paid, and have the opportunity to build a successful long-term career. We know this funding will help us to unlock the talents of more young people, and it goes to show what can be achieved when government and industry work together.
The training places are open to anyone across the UK who has an interest in becoming a navigation officer, engineer or an electro-technical officer.
Places will be available at training colleges including Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton, City of Glasgow College, Lairdside Maritime Centre in Liverpool, South Shields Marine School and the Fleetwood Nautical Campus.
Emma Jordan, 27, is taking a foundation degree in marine engineering at Warsash Maritime Academy. She said:
I was a motorbike mechanic before but I discovered a more challenging role with BP Maritime Services. I’d really like to be a chief engineer and the guys on board are really good as they’re really interested in your training because if they do it right then you’re going to be useful.
The funding will increase annually over 7 years to fulfill demand for seafarer training.
The maritime industry has a crucial role to play in inspiring the next generation of engineers throughout 2018. The government’s Year of Engineering is being supported by organisations from across the industry, including the Royal Navy, UK Nest, Seafarers UK, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Land Rover BAR and Associated British Ports.
Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said:
I am proud that the United Kingdom has one of the most vibrant and competitive maritime sectors in the world. We are an outward-looking, global trading maritime nation proud of our maritime history but forward looking and ambitious for our future.
Our success though relies above all else on our workforce. The United Kingdom is recognised all over the world for its leading maritime education and training and for the very best seafarers that are produced. Our well-trained and skilled cadets are responsible for many of our vital needs bringing them efficiently and safely to our shores.
I am therefore pleased to announce that we will be doubling government’s financial support for maritime training, the so-called SMarT fund, from £15 million to £30 million to introduce a new SMarT Plus option. I am committed to continue building capacity and diversity within our maritime workforce so it can capitalise on every opportunity the market provides. I recognise the importance of transferable skills and the essential role seafarers play in supporting the wider maritime sector when they return from sea to shore based careers. Increasing our support for maritime training is essential in order for our great maritime nation to maintain its global position as a market leader. This is never more important than it is today as we prepare to leave the EU and take an even more global outlook.
Seafarers are highly skilled professionals entering STEM related careers. SMarT Plus funding will be available from April 2018 and will also support the Year of Engineering though stimulating the availability of training opportunities for deck, engine and electro-technical cadets. The 2018/19 cohort of SMarT Plus cadets will begin their on-ship training in the months before we leave the EU.
A key strength of the UK’s maritime sector is our strong relationship with industry. I value the work of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International and the Merchant Navy Training Board in developing and refining the SMarT Plus proposal in conjunction with my department’s officials. An opportunity was clearly identified to create a resurgence in maritime training and increase the competitiveness of SMarT. There is no shortage of people applying for cadetships and it is only right that we capitalise on this momentum and create the conditions for more UK training and employment opportunities within the maritime sector. I am delighted to be working with the maritime industry and trade unions and together we will build a stronger UK maritime workforce.