The UK government has agreed to double the budget for the Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme – a decision which has been warmly welcomed by Nautilus.
The Union has consistently campaigned to secure increased funding for SMarT to support the cost of training UK-resident seafarers and to bring the scheme in line with the aid provided by many other major maritime nations.
Nautilus also developed the SMarT Plus proposal, together with the UK Chamber of Shipping, which seeks to double the number of officer trainees in return for the government increasing the annual SMarT budget to £30m. Companies including Carnival UK, BP, Shell, Maersk and Stena Line have also pledged to create an extra 450 training positions as a result of the extra support.
The SMarT Plus package encourages companies sponsoring officer trainees to provide them with a minimum period of employment once they have completed their training – which will enable them to secure the required sea time to progress towards their higher-level Certificate of Competency (CoC).
Announcing the decision, shipping minister Nusrat Ghani said: 'We are building the maritime workforce of tomorrow and I want to encourage more young people to consider an exciting and rewarding career at sea. By doubling the funding for cadet training, we will help make sure that our engineers and captains of the future can access the right opportunities to reach their full potential. It will also strengthen the UK maritime sector's position as a world leader and ensure people have the skills they need to help the industry flourish after we leave the EU.'
'This is very welcome news and represents a huge victory for the Union's Charter for Jobs campaign,' said Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson. 'To have secured this in the current economic and political climate is a significant achievement and we are delighted that the government has listened to the strength of the case that we have put forward.
'We have worked closely with the shipowners to develop the SMarT Plus package in a way that will give the government commitments on training and employment targets whilst also addressing some of the obstacles which have so far held us back from delivering on those aims. We now look to the owners to deliver on those commitments.
The money is literally small change down the back of the DfT's sofa – with £15m being barely the cost of building a mile of motorway – but it will make a massive difference to the supply and demand of British seafarers and could mark a watershed for UK maritime employment and training. Mark Dickinson
'As the DfT's own research has shown, this support will also deliver massive economic benefits – with every £1 spent of SMarT generating almost £5 return to the economy, as well as safeguarding the supply of skilled and experienced seafarers which is so vital for the sustainability of the UK as a global maritime centre.'
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