As the numbers of British seafarers seem to be in decline, the government in Scotland and in Whitehall has been called upon to provide further support the UK maritime sector in order to ensure that jobs and businesses are able to face the challenges presented by current market conditions.
President of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Grahaeme Henderson, said that the government’s GBP 15 million SMarT funding has helped to ensure that a new generation can go to sea, however, seafarer training is often far cheaper in some countries than in the UK.
“The UK Chamber is therefore calling on government to implement a SMarT Plus option and increase funding to incentivise companies to train more seafarers – who in return will commit to giving cadets their first job, ensuring the government sees a return on its investment,” Henderson told industry leaders and Scottish government representatives at the UK Chamber’s Inaugural Summer Lunch in Edinburgh on June 8.
He pointed out the challenges that the industry faces, as the global market conditions impacted jobs in the offshore sector.
“The industry has always had its ups and downs, but there is justifiable concern that the numbers of British seafarers based in Aberdeen and elsewhere are in decline,” he added.
Although the skills related to work in the offshore sector are highly specialized, Henderson believes they can be transferred into other areas of shipping. He further said that the government “must act to provide support and funding to help seafarers re-skill and get back to sea.”