Funding is available towards training and refresher courses that could help seafarers get a new job or a new contract in the industry. Over 30 applications to the Maritime Charities Group (MCG) Retraining and Redundancy Bursary, launched November 2020, have been approved and over £15,000 awarded in grants.
The group is keen to encourage applications from ratings and the ferry industry, which have been particularly hard hit by redundancy during the pandemic.
'Whether it's help with job applications and interviews, or funding for a refresher course, the MCG bursary is there for you. Just go to the Marine Society website and apply today,' the chair of MCG, commander Graham Hockley, LVO RN said.
The fund now stands at £40,000 thanks to generous contributions from MCG members Merchant Navy Welfare Board and Trinity House, and a successful application to the Nautilus Slater Fund.
It is aimed at UK-based merchant seafarers who have lost their job or been unable to renew their contract as a direct result of Covid-19 and need help towards training for a new role in the industry. Applicants can claim up to £500 towards training or qualifications of their choice. The fund is managed by the Marine Society on behalf of MCG.
CASE STUDY 1
I've been at sea since I left school over forty years ago. I started out as a fisherman then moved on to standby, supply, dive ships and then drill ships, where I’ve been working for the last 12 years.
In October 2020 my contract came to an end. That was the first time I've ever been unemployed. I want to move into offshore wind – I think it's a good direction to go in as opposed to oil and gas.
Almost all the work now is through agencies and you need to have all your certificates up to date and ready to go. At over £1,000 a time this is a considerable expense with no guarantee of a job. So, when I heard about the grant I applied straight away for help with the windfarm industry courses.
Applying for the fund was easy even for a technophobe like me. I used the grant towards the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) basic course which cost almost £1,300.
I'm still trying to get into the windfarm industry but thanks to the MCG bursary I think I have a much better chance now.
CASE STUDY 2
I've been a marine engineer since I left school, working mainly in the deep sea merchant fleet and more recently in oil and gas, specifically offshore drilling.
With the onset of Covid-19 the company I worked for made everyone on my rig redundant by October 2020.
Having been at sea for over 20 years I thought about getting a job ashore but decided I should renew my STCW courses and continue working at sea in some capacity, either in oil and gas or back within shipping.
I saw the adverts for the bursary fund in the Nautilus Telegraph and, as my certificates were due for renewal in March, thought I would apply. I was unemployed at the time and had an offer to start work again soon but needed to get my STCW courses refreshed urgently.
So, I paid for the courses myself and applied for the grant at the same time. The process was quick and easy and very flexible. Everything was clearly explained on the Marine Society website and in the application form. I filled in the forms and sent them off, then Carla replied and explained the process and time frames.
Thankfully I heard very quickly that my application had been successful. I received £500 towards my STCW refresher courses – four in total – and this paid most of the fees.
Having passed the courses, I was then able to accept a contract with Stena Drilling.
The grant has enabled me to continue to work at sea. Without STCW courses I wouldn’t be able to maintain my second engineers' certificate and stay in the maritime industry.
I'm still working through an agency but in the long term I hope to find a permanent position in oil and gas or within the merchant sector, neither of which would be possible without having refreshed my courses.
I'd say to anyone in a similar position, take this opportunity and apply for a grant either for a refresher course or towards training for something new in the sector. It's a really good way to enhance your skills and improve your job prospects in these hard times.