This program will double the support for young people to £30 million a year, and it will be offered through Support for Maritime Training (SMarT), enabling the annual intake of cadets to rise from 750 to 1,200.

Shipping companies, such as Carnival UK, BP, Shell, Maersk and Stena Line, will also create an extra 450 training positions on board ships. These positions will give SMarT cadets the experience at sea, helping them gain qualifications

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani 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."

The training places are open to anyone in the UK who is interested in becoming a navigation officer, engineer or an electro-technical officer.

Places will be available at training colleges including Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton, City of Glasgow College, Lairdside Maritime Centre in Liverpool, South Shields Marine School and the Fleetwood Nautical Campus.

The funds will increase every year, over the course of 7 years, to meet the demand for seafarer training.

Maritime union Nautilus International has hailed the decision by the UK government, as it has consistently campaigned to secure increased funding for SMarT to support the cost of training UK-resident seafarers and to bring the scheme in line with the aid provided by many other major maritime nations.

"This is very welcome news and represents a huge victory for the Union’s Charter for Jobs campaign," said Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson. "To have secured this in the current economic and political climate is a significant achievement and we are delighted that the government has listened to the strength of the case that we have put forward."

"The money is literally small change down the back of the DfT’s sofa – with £15m being barely the cost of building a mile of motorway – but it will make a massive difference to the supply and demand of British seafarers and could mark a watershed for UK maritime employment and training," he added.