The number of UK seafarers has increased for the first time since 2010, new figures released by the UK Department for Transport show.
The annual seafarer statistics show that the total number of UK seafarers active at sea in 2014 was estimated to be 22,910.
The total number of UK officers increased by around 1,000 compared to 2013 – the first annual increase in the total number of UK seafarers, since 2010.
The figures also show that nearly 2,000 officer cadets were in training, the second highest level since the UK government’s ‘Support for Maritime Training’ scheme started in 1998.
“After several years of decline this news is hugely encouraging,” said UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Guy Platten.
“There is a global shortage of seafarers, and with the volume of trade moved by sea expected to double in the next twenty years, the demand for skilled seafarers will only increase.
“The world needs more seafarers and the UK is uniquely placed to plug that gap, with world class maritime colleges and training institutions, and a reputation for providing highly skilled seafarers.
“With the right government support, we can create a new seafaring generation across the UK, with young people from all walks of life finding a rewarding and exciting career at sea.
But Platten said more needed to be done by the UK government to support new seafaring jobs.
“Training world class seafarers comes at a price. The Support for Maritime Training scheme covered 50% of the cost of training new seafarers in 1998, now it covers just over a quarter,” Platten said.
“We are the second most expensive country in the world for companies to train seafarers, and given seafarers go on to work in a range of shore-based maritime careers after they return from sea, it is unfair for shipping companies to shoulder the vast majority of the training costs. This is why Government support is so crucial.
“Government increased Support for Maritime Training funding from £12m ($18m) to £15m in 2013. This is having a positive impact.
“But if we are to unlock the seafaring potential that exists across the UK, we need government to commit to covering a much higher percentage of training costs.”
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