Promotion of world class training is a positive step in managing the talent shortage within the Maritime industry

During UK Maritime Education and Skills Week earlier this November, we saw the launch of a campaign to raise the profile of the UK’s diverse training and career opportunities available across the maritime sector. The aim of this week was to highlight the UK’s world class capacity for training to a new generation of potential seafarers and maritime operators.

The week was spearheaded by the Department for Transport in partnership with Maritime UK, which is the coalition of seven major shipping, ports and business services in the UK. One of the key promotions was the launch by the Rt. Hon John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Transport, and Maritime UK Chairman, Jeffrey Evans of “Open for Maritime Skills”. This is a detailed synopsis of the opportunities in both training and career direction which the maritime industry is now focused on throughout the UK. This document is the second in a series, following last year’s highly successful ‘Open for Maritime Business’ which was launched by the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary during London International Shipping Week.

‘Open for Maritime Skills’ aims to set out why the UK is now one of the most pre-eminent countries in the world for maritime training – covering seafaring, maritime business services, port workers, naval architecture and engineering, as well as a range of other disciplines. Media coverage of the launch included commentary from Maritime UK Chairman, Jeffrey Evans, who said: “Britain has a global reputation for maritime education, skills and training. Across the world, UK-trained professionals are in high demand – and with good reason. We have some of the finest maritime colleges – with the most advanced training schemes and innovative apprenticeship programmes – anywhere in the world.”

The Minister of State for Transport was also involved in a whole variety of visits to a diverse list of organisations across different parts of the UK, including a range of institutions at the forefront of maritime sector education. He was quoted as saying: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Government and industry to come together to showcase what the UK maritime sector has to offer internationally. This Government is rightly proud of our skills offer – the variety of our training programmes, the breadth of career opportunities, our highly trained workforce and our outstanding maritime training institutions – the UK is very much Open for Maritime Skills.”

Head of WRS’ Marine Division, Sam Houghton says, “A recent survey of maritime job seekers conducted by WRS sheds some light on where the gaps are in the skill sets as well as demographic challenges and drivers which could be contributors in the ongoing talent shortage which some worldwide regions are still experiencing. Along with the fact that sea trade is expected to double in the next 20 years, this highlights that there is never a better time to increase the highly skilled maritime workforce than right now.”

He goes on to say, “To attract new talent into the industry, what needs to be consistently promoted is that the training and career opportunities are by no means limited to seafaring. The UK’s training options include skills needed by port workers, engineers, naval architects and shipbrokers, amongst others. We hope that this comprehensive choice will ensure there are sufficient numbers of qualified and experienced individuals to meet the long-term needs of the worldwide maritime industry.”

The UK’s maritime training infrastructure is at the forefront within the global arena, with educational provision and professional skills development offered through a wide range of universities and colleges and other specific training bodies. These institutions also benefit from significant input and leadership from the world’s most successful maritime businesses too.

Whether onshore or offshore, here’s a summary of the key avenues available for those looking to undertake training within the UK to start or further develop their maritime career:
Apprenticeships: A range of apprenticeships for maritime occupations at sea and onshore are being developed, with variations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and are available for those aged 16 or over.

Merchant Navy Ratings and Officer Cadets: Last year the UK Government increased their annual budget for Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) to £15m. This contributes significantly towards the cost of training Merchant Navy ratings and officer cadets, as well as existing seafarers who wish to take up further professional training. There is no upper age limit for SMarT funding.

Officer Training: To further increase the number of trained individuals at sea, the UK’s Tonnage Tax regime includes a minimum obligation where each year shipping companies must train one officer trainee for every 15 officer posts in their fleet. The UK plans to pilot an extension to this from October 2015, which will allow three ratings to be trained in place of one cadet. Trainees must be UK or EEA nationals and be resident in the UK.
Seafarer Certification: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) provides highly respected seafarer certification.

The Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB): As part of the UK Chamber of Shipping, the MNTB is the shipping industry’s central body for promoting and developing sector specific education, training and skills. They collaborate with ship owners, trade unions and education, to develop training frameworks that meet regulatory and industry needs.

Maritime Skills Alliance (MSA): The MSA sets and promotes skills standards for the UK’s maritime sector, with a significant focus on uniting standards and qualifications which enable individuals to progress both within their specialism and between sectors.
Degree level training: Maritime degree courses are run by established universities such as those in Cardiff, London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton and Strathclyde. As well as teaching internationally required technical skills, these courses cover management skills, regulatory regimes and the safe operation of high-technology vessels. There are also three-year Merchant Navy foundation degrees (which is a professional diploma in Scotland), which lead to qualifications as a deck, engineering or electro-technical officer.
Professional-level, industry-specific qualifications: These are available from a range of industry bodies including the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS), Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), Association of Average Adjusters, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST), Maritime Education & Training, and a range of other providers.

Sam summarises, “Qualifications and the experience gained in UK institutions and businesses are globally recognised and respected. The training options range from apprenticeships to degrees plus every level in between and, where applicable, these different options attract large numbers of individuals from other countries. This enables them to benefit from some of the maritime industry’s highest training standards and gain higher levels of certification than may be available in their home country. Often the organisations and industries that deliver the training also offer their expertise abroad too by way of developing courses, assisting in the set-up of colleges and training lecturing staff. In this way the UK continue to lead the way in global maritime education and development.”
Source: Worldwide Recruitment Solutions

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