To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the supply of UK (a) officers and (b) ratings will meet the increases in demand for seafarers in the UK shipping industry over the next decade, forecast in the UK Seafarer Projections report commissioned by his Department.
Having a skilled workforce is essential to the future of the UK's maritime sector and is an area I am personally committed to.
Alongside the Seafarers Projections report, a review of the Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme was also commissioned and the report published on 18th July. Both of these pieces of work will be used to inform future policy with the aim to increase the number of officers and ratings.
The Department continues to support seafarer training through the £15m SMarT scheme. It has been working with industry and the unions on the development of the SMarT Plus proposal which aims to increase officer numbers to 1200. The latest version of the proposal was received in June and is currently under consideration.
Work is underway in developing a range of rating apprenticeships which will deliver more routes into ratings training. The Deck Apprenticeship is now approved and the Engine Room and Catering rating apprenticeships are progressing well. These apprenticeships, along with the levy and the tonnage tax ratings option will help stimulate increased demand for ratings training. Coupled with this is the Ratings Taskforce of which the Department is an active member. At the recent Ratings Summit, which was attended by a number of officials, a range of actions were put forward by attendees and the Department looks forward to seeing the development of a Ratings Strategy by the Ratings Taskforce which will address some of these actions.