To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to promote (a) employment and (b) training opportunities for UK-based seafarer ratings.
The Maritime Growth Study, chaired by Lord Mountevans and published on 7 September 2015, recognised the need for more proactive action to promote and grow the UK’s maritime sector and to replenish and develop the skills needed to maintain the UK’s position as a world-leading maritime centre. The Government continues to work with Maritime UK on the delivery of the skills recommendations through its People and Skills Working Group and associated sub groups. Alongside this, my department works with the maritime industry including the maritime unions, which I meet with periodically, in addressing matters around ratings training through the Ratings Taskforce.
Through the People and Skills Working Group, Government and industry are also working to address the other skills recommendations including establishing better links into schools and enlarging the awareness programme to encourage entry into the merchant navy at both officer and rating levels. Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Government’s drive to give people of all ages the skills employers need to grow and compete. Maritime is a key part of this with a range of rating apprenticeships both approved and in development.
There is regular dialogue through the Ministerial Working Group created through the Maritime Growth Study to drive growth and tackle issues affecting the sector. This Working Group includes Ministerial and official representation from across Whitehall and discusses a range of issues, with maritime skills and apprenticeships topics that have been discussed. There are also regular ongoing discussions at official and Ministerial level including my recent bilateral with Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, the Rt Hon Member for Harlow, Robert Halfon MP.
In addition, I have reconvened the government/industry National Minimum Wage (NMW) Legal Working Group and officials are working with colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to look at how the NMW is applied to seafarers working on vessels operating out of UK ports or in UK waters.