The UK government must overhaul funding for seafarer training and modernize courses if its seafarers are to remain competitive in the global shipping sector, according to a new report by the Maritime Skills Commission.
he Seafarer Cadet Review Report, released this week, recommends that seafarer officer training should be fully funded by the government and cadets given access to modern technology, such as simulators and blended learning tools, for the UK to maintain its leadership in maritime expertise and attract global investment.
The report also recommends that the industry should encourage more applicants to have a university degree or equivalent levels of education, and ensure STCW qualifications are the minimum standard for all recruits.
As the international shipping world looks to make some huge changes over the coming decades, UK officers will play an increasingly important role in managing that transition. This report outlines how the training that UK officers receive at the start of their careers will adapt to fully equip them with the skills to take on this key leadership,
…said Brian Johnson (Chair), CEO of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The report finds three national drivers for considering seafaring officer training:
- Meeting the domestic need for skilled officers – both for roles at sea and for roles in shipping management and in the broader maritime services sector. The maritime services sector in the UK is worth £17 billion GVA to the UK economy and £47 billion in business turnover.
- Growing the demand for and creating the supply of UK officers for the international shipping sector who differentiate themselves in a commoditised employment market through very high technical and leadership competence – skills that will be in high demand as decarbonisation drives very challenging transformation within the international shipping sector.
- Stimulating the growth of UK maritime education exports. The sector is well regarded internationally and, with 1,000 seafaring officer students who are foreign nationals at any point in time, creates revenues of between £5 and £10m/yr.
The Commission was set up last year by Maritime UK and the Department for Transport, as part of the government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, to ensure talented people serve all parts of the industry.
As we look to this year’s International Day of the Seafarer, the Maritime Skills Commission report sets out how we can refresh the current training programme to keep our Merchant Navy at the forefront of maritime innovation for years to come,
…commented also Maritime Minister, Robert Courts.
Specifically, the working group concluded that changes need to be made in the following areas:
- Recognizing that the STCW is a minimum acceptably international standard of education for seafarers, not a desirable standard. Setting the bar higher.
- Evolution of course content, reflecting the increasing need for greater technical agility and leadership skills, whilst recognizing the importance of a solid foundation in seafaring skills.
- Whilst retaining a spectrum of qualifications, moving significantly further in the direction of honours (ie level 6) degrees.
- Overhauling the funding system. Seafaring officer training should be fully government-funded and students must have choice about which college and course they attend.
- Improving the quality of the learning and experience through improved access to modern electronic equipment, simulators and blended learning tools.
- Re-thinking the traditional emphasis on “time spent” as an indicator of learning and replacing with objective measures.
- Overhauling the experience of cadets during their sea time. Making sure that shipping companies fulfill their obligations fully, that colleges continue to provide mentoring, and that experience onboard ship is properly blended with simulator experience to create a rich and consistent experience base.
- Recognizing that the training/education regime of UK officers has been slow to change over the years and that some hard decisions will need to be made in implementing the recommendations of this report. The final recommendation of the group was to create the necessary environment for change through improvements at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB)