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March 2012 | | telegraph | 21 SEAFARERTRAINING Value-added aid

Nautilus has welcomed the results of a UK government- commissioned report which shows the economic sense in providing assistance for seafarer training…


Government support for seafarer training is a proven value-for-money

investment, an independent study has concluded. Commissioned by UK minis- ters as part of the review of the Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme, the 125-page study by fi nancial consultants Deloitte and Oxford Economics warns that the future supply of maritime professionals is too important to be left to market forces.

And it stresses that owners may

turn to ‘second-best solutions’ if the government assistance — worth around 40% of the cost of training a cadet — is withdrawn. The report underlines the

importance of shipping and sea- farers to the UK economy — with the maritime sector directly cre- ating 227,000 jobs and indirectly adding a further 304,000 jobs, as well as making an overall contri- bution worth more than £26bn a year to the UK economy.

will certainly not support any move to pass on the costs of fees to trainees


— Mark Dickinson general secretary

” In all, the consultants calcu-

lated, the benefi ts from SMarT provision add up to around £58m a year — against an overall cost of £30m a year. While the SMarT scheme costs the government around £12m a year, the report argues that it adds an extra 200 UK cadets a year — pointing out that workers in the shipping sec- tor produce around 11.4% more GDP than average workers in the UK economy. Research shows that employ- ers consider seafaring experience to be essential for as many as 10,000 jobs in the UK maritime cluster of shore-based industries and services, the consultants found.

‘Nearly all countries offer some form of support for seafarer training in conjunction with a

tonnage tax and there is fi erce competition to attract shipping companies registering,’ the report stresses. It adds that ‘…maritime clusters cannot afford to stand still and must continue to main- tain and develop a skills base or risk losing their comparative advantages.’ Without SMarT, the study stresses, many shipping compa- nies would immediately cut back on their training — and in the longer term could withdraw from the UK tonnage tax scheme. One sign of SMarT’s success is

that — just before it was intro- duced — a 1998 report forecasted that the number of UK offi cers would fall to around 9,000 in 2011. In fact, the upturn in cadet recruitment over the past decade means the fi gure was more like 13,000. But with two-thirds of UK-

certifi cated active offi cers now aged 40 or over, the report emphasises the pressing need to recruit and retain a new genera- tion. On current trends, it points out, the number of serving UK deck and engineer offi cers is set to drop from 11,236 to 7,299 over the next 10 years. In the same period, the number of serving UK deck and engine ratings would fall from 5,911 to 3,968. If action is not taken, the report

says, the gap between supply and demand for UK deck and engineer offi cers will rise to around 3,500 by 2021. Even if the global econ- omy remains depressed, there will still be a shortage — except in the ‘worst case scenario of Euro- zone fi nancial contagion’, in which case the gap between sup- ply and demand would be delayed until 2016.

One response to this shortage

would be to seek to employ more foreign offi cers, the consultants pointed out. Indeed, the report adds, the proportion of non-UK offi cers serving on UK ships has risen from 30% in 2004 to 57% in 2010 and — on present trends — could total almost 78% by 2021. A policy of employing more foreign offi cers would also ‘have distinct downsides’, the report cautions, because of the signifi - cant proportion of companies who prefer to have UK nationals. The consultants also identifi ed the problem of a ‘free rider’ effect — with the shipping companies that do invest in training often losing the benefi ts of their invest- ment because of competition in the employment market. This issue also underlines the need for government intervention, the report concludes.

Interest rates rising!

Interest in working at sea seems to be booming, judging by the turn-out for South Tyneside College’s annual maritime careers open day, above and right. More than 350 people attended the event, which included exhibition stalls from employers such as Maersk, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Princess Cruises, James Fisher, Ship Safe Training Group, Carnival, Viking Recruitment, Chiltern Maritime, Clyde Marine Training, Northern Marine Management, Meridian and Pritchard Gordon Tankers. Gary Hindmarch, director of business development at the college, said:

‘The attendance at the event was extremely encouraging for the industry. With potential earnings of up to £40k tax-free and a chance to see the world, a marine career off ers fantastic opportunities. At the moment, skills shortages at sea mean that successful graduates from the programmes have excellent career opportunities and potential students had the opportunity to talk to those already working in the industry.’

The review examined a wide range of potential policy meas- ures, including: zrequiring cadets to work for the shipping company that trained them zrequiring trainees to pay for their training zforcing shipping companies to recruit and train cadets zintroducing an industry-wide levy and grant scheme zmoving towards an apprentice- ship-based model for UK seafarer training However, the consultants con- sidered there were only three key options open to the government — continuing with SMarT, intro- ducing a levy system to share the costs of training, and/or using the apprenticeship training model. The panel of independent

maritime industry experts — which included Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson — appointed by the shipping minis- ter to consider the report warned that making students pay for the training could have a ‘signifi cant detrimental impact’ and that a levy scheme could deter some shipping companies from using the UK system.

‘In the absence of any tangible

costed alternatives, the panel con- cluded that to continue SMarT at its current level was the preferred option and on the basis of the available evidence represented value for money.’ Nautilus has welcomed the report — and the shipping minis- ter’s subsequent decision to retain the SMarT scheme with £12m a year funding for the life of the current parliament. However, the Union says the

government’s commitment to continue providing support should put a stop to suggestions that cadets might have to contrib- ute towards the costs of their training. The idea has been fl oated because of the additional training costs arising from the increased tuition fees for UK higher and further education. ‘Owners need to be very careful if they think they can get support from the government at the same time as placing additional costs on the cadets,’ Mr Dickinson warned. ‘The independent report ruled

this out as an option for the future and Nautilus will certainly not support any move to pass on the costs of fees to trainees,’ he added.

alue-added aid

SMarT stats


zthe SMarT scheme has been in place since 2001 and has paid out around £110m since then zsince SMarT was introduced, the annual intake of UK cadets has risen from around 450 to almost 900 ztotal funding for the scheme rose from £7.5m in 2001 to a peak of £15.6m in 2010 zthe SMarT scheme includes a sum of £100,000 to assist with ratings, training or to support ratings training to become offi cers z the government believes the new SMarT funding arrangements would cover up to 925 new cadets a year

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