To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to increase the supply of UK (a) domiciled and (b) trained seafarers to the shipping industry.
The Department provides support for seafarer training through the Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme, the budget for which was increased by 25% to £15million in September 2013. A company or group which elects for the Tonnage Tax is required, each year, to recruit one new officer trainee for every fifteen officer posts in its fleet. We have additionally introduced an option, from 1 October 2015, which allows companies or groups in Tonnage Tax to recruit and train three Able Seafarer ratings each year in place of one trainee officer.
The industry and the Government are working together to encourage and support the next generation of seafarers and are developing a range of apprenticeships for maritime occupations at sea and ashore. We support the work of the Merchant Navy Training Board and SeaVision in promoting maritime careers, and we collaborated with Maritime UK in the production of an “Open for Maritime Skills” pamphlet. However, the recruitment and training of merchant seafarers is principally a matter for the shipping industry itself.
The Maritime Growth Study, chaired by Lord Mountevans, was published on 7 September 2015 and contained a number of recommendations for government and industry on skills, including to help maintain the UK’s future supply of seafarers. The Government will formally respond to the Study by the end of the year.