Nautilus International has warned that the UK could be left dangerously dependent on foreign shipping and workforces after the Chancellor failed to commit to further investment or incentives for training schemes aimed at UK seafarers.
The Union has been lobbying the government to double its Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) funding investment to £30m and to back the SMarT Plus proposal to enable newly-qualified officers to get vital seagoing watchkeeping experience, and further support to attain their senior level Certificate of Competency (CoC).
The additional £15m investment requested by the Union amounts to less than the cost of building half a mile of motorway. Analysis and input from an independent report into the value of the SMarT scheme shows that this will be repaid many times over with the creation of thousands of quality jobs at a pivotal time for the nation's economy.
The Union was also disappointed by the government's further failure to pledge to review the UK tonnage tax scheme. While the measure has helped to boost seafarer numbers, Nautilus warns that without continuous re-evaluation it will fall short of plugging the forecast national maritime skills gap.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson commented: 'We are extremely disappointed that the Chancellor has sold the maritime industry short in his Budget announcement. Especially when commitments were made to rail, road and air, the shipping industry has once again been overlooked at what is a critical time for the country's maritime resilience.
'As we have pointed out to the government, the SMarT scheme offers a valuable incentive to industry which has a positive knock-on effect on the wider economy. These proposals also have full support from all sides of the maritime industry, including those who truly understand the importance of the shipping industry to the UK.
'Continuous evaluation of training and employment schemes will enable the government and industry to identify clear paths of training and development, helping to establish a common core of skills in the maritime sector,' Mr Dickinson added.
'The UK's shipping industry is battling a significant decline in seafarer numbers and we are in danger of that figure shrinking even further without intervention, making us dangerously dependent on foreign shipping companies – something that will be of increasing importance in the post-Brexit environment.
General secretary Mark Dickinson commented:
Despite the Chancellor's assertion about his commitment to "build on Britain's global success story", he has failed to deliver the investment and support that is so critical to ensuring we have a well-trained and well supported workforce to retain our position as a global maritime leader.
'We will continue to campaign on these issues to affirm the nation as the key player in the global maritime industry, calling on the Chancellor to agree to earlier pledges before the dominance is lost.'
Nautilus's ongoing Charter for Jobs campaign continues to encourage maritime organisations and the UK government to work together in delivering decent work and training opportunities for British seafarers, in the interests of the nation's strategic and economic needs.
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