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Shipping: Training

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 24309, tabled on 26 January 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the recommendations for increasing the training and employment of UK seafarers in the Maritime Futures report by Professor Helen Sampson of Cardiff University, published in January 2015.

Answered on

29 January 2016

A number of recommendations made within the Maritime Futures report were put forward in the call for evidence for the Department’s Maritime Growth Study and the Department has taken forward a number of those.

The Department provides support for the training of officers and ratings through the £15m Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme. A company or group which elects for the Tonnage Tax is required, each year, to recruit one new officer trainee for every fifteen officer posts in its fleet. Following a proposal from the UK Chamber of Shipping, RMT and Nautilus to allow companies to recruit and train three able seafarer ratings in place of one trainee officer, a pilot to allow ratings to be counted against the training commitment started on 1st October 2015.

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 the Maritime Trailblazer which is employer led and has one approved standard for deck ratings and a further three in development for maritime mechanic, maritime caterer and onboard services.

The UK government’s position on island cabotage remains unchanged but this is kept under constant review. At present those providing such services remain significant employers of UK seafarers.

UK seafarers working for UK companies on a UK flagged vessel are not entitled to an exemption to national insurance payments. They may, however, benefit from the Seafarers Earning Reductions tax relief for income tax.

An ‘in personum’ approach to the application of national minimum wage is preferred as it ensures that those who are entitled to it will benefit. International law prevents the UK from interfering in the ‘internal market’ of a vessel, this includes wages, and is applicable to those vessels visiting or operating out of UK ports. HMRC is responsible for NMW enforcement and the government takes non-compliance of the legislation very seriously.

The Carter Report was commissioned under a previous administration and was already considered at the time of the drafting of the Equality Act 2011 (Work on Ships and Hovercraft) 2012 regulations.

The Maritime Growth Study, chaired by Lord Mountevans, was published on 7 September 2015 and contained a number of recommendations for government and industry on skills, including to help maintain the UK’s future supply of seafarers. The Government formally respond to the Study in December 2015 accepting all the recommendations.

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