The annual intake of cadets to the British Merchant Navy is to grow by 60% thanks to the Government’s plan to double funding for seafarer training.  The investment will be offered through the Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme, enabling the annual intake of UK cadets to rise from 750 to 1,200.

The establishment of this scheme owes much to founding director of Clyde Marine Training, Bill Gibb, who campaigned extensively in the late 1980s for the establishment of a government fund to halt the rapid decline in cadets signing up, and which resulted in the creation of GAFT, the precursor to SMarT.

The funding will increase annually over seven years to fulfil demand, growing to £30 million from the current £15 million.

This will allow a greater number of SMarT cadets to gain internationally recognised qualifications and train to a higher level.

Places will be available at nautical colleges throughout the UK including CMT partners Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton, City of Glasgow College, Fleetwood Nautical Campus, NAFC Marine Centre in the Shetlands, The Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead and the South Shields Marine School in Tyneside.

The training places are open to anyone across the UK who has an interest in becoming a deck officer, engineer officer or an electro-technical officer – all positions supplied by Clyde Marine Training.

Big-name multinationals like Anglo Eastern Group; BP Shipping, Shell Shipping & Maritime and Maersk Crewing are among the 40 shipping companies that have backed the policy and have pledged to create an extra 450 training positions on their ships, guaranteeing cadets their first job.

Enriching and enlarging this highly skilled seafaring workforce will benefit young people throughout their careers, and will add value to the UK maritime businesses in which they ultimately find employment, both at sea and on the shore.

The policy was announced today by Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani, who said: “We are building the maritime workforce of tomorrow and I want to encourage more young people to consider an exciting and rewarding career at sea.

“By doubling the funding for cadet training, we will help make sure that our engineers and captains of the future can access the right opportunities to reach their full potential.

“It will also strengthen the UK maritime sector’s position as a world leader and ensure people have the skills they need to help the industry flourish after we leave the EU.”

UK Chamber of Shipping Chief Executive Guy Platten said: “Nothing will prove that the UK is open for business quite like seeing more British seafarers arrive in the world’s ports.  We already recruit people from all backgrounds and all corners of the country, and with this new investment we will be able to create thousands of new opportunities in the years ahead.

“The taxpayer sees a £5 return on every £1 it invests in seafarer training, so this funding will see the economy and the workforce, as well as the industry better off.

“Seafarers are highly skilled and well paid, and have the opportunity to build a successful long-term career.  We know this funding will help us to unlock the talents of more young people, and it goes to show what can be achieved when Government and industry work together.”

The UK Chamber has campaigned for SMarT Plus for the past year, working with the national media, Parliament and Government.

In November, the UK Chamber issued a detailed business case, asking the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to double the amount of funding available for seafarer training as soon as possible.

The proposal was was also sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond and the then Minister of State, Department for Transport, John Hayes.