Nautilus Welcomes SMarT Plus Commitment2 February 2018
The maritime professionals' union Nautilus International has welcomed the government's commitment to further investment in the Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme.
The SMarT initiative, which has run for nearly 20 years, sees the government support the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Merchant Navy Training Board courses for the training of officers, officer cadets and ratings, vital to the industry which brings the nation 95% of our imports and exports.
Nautilus has consistently campaigned to secure increased funding from the government for SMarT to support the cost of training UK-resident seafarers and to bring it in line with the aid provided by many other maritime nations.
The government have agreed to the SMarT Plus proposals developed by the union and UK Chamber of Shipping to double the annual SMarT budget, taking it to £30m which will double the number of officer trainees.
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).
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson commented: "This is very welcome news and represents a huge victory for the Union's Charter for Jobs campaign. 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 Department for Transport's (DfT) 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.
Dickinson continued: "As the DfT's own research has shown, this support will also deliver massive economic benefits with every £1 spent on 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."
Nautilus's ongoing Charter for Jobs campaign continues to encourage maritime organisations and the UK government to work together in delivering decent work for British seafarers, in the interests of the nation's strategic and economic needs.