Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael this week urged the Shipping Minister Paul Clark MP to do more to help the UK"s shipping workforce.
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael this week urged the Shipping Minister Paul Clark MP to do more to help the UK"s shipping workforce after reports from within the industry warned that the UK"s maritime expertise is in danger of dying out.
Maersk recently announced redundancies of almost one third of its UK shipping workforce whilst the number of British ratings has fallen from 30,000 in 1980 to less than 9,000 today. Speaking during Transport Questions in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael asked - ?What recent representations the Minister has received on seafarer training and employment?
Shipping Minister Paul Clark MP replied -
?I am grateful to the maritime trade unions and the Chamber of Shipping for submitting joint maritime training proposals, and I am aware of the strength of feeling on this matter. However, the proposals would require significant additional investment at a time of increasing pressures on Government resources, which is why we need to consider all elements of the proposals very carefully.?
Mr Carmichael said ?
?I am grateful to the Minister for that answer, and I am aware that his Department has been carefully considering these proposals since it first received them from the unions in April 2007. He recently referred to them as being open-ended. I can tell him that the unions are happy to talk about limits to define these proposals, but they would need to have an answer from the Department first.?
Mr Clark MP ?
I appreciate that. Actually, the latest proposal was submitted on 30 March this year. I have had regular meetings with Nautilus International, the Chamber of Shipping and others concerning support for training and employment opportunities for seafarers. I want the UK's position to continue to be strong. I also want to build on these opportunities, and I am currently considering how we can progress towards exactly the same goal that the hon. Gentleman clearly has, as do those in the industry.
Commenting after his exchange Mr Carmichael said ?
?It is in the commercial and environmental interests of the government to retain a substantial and well trained maritime workforce. As more international freight gets carried by sea it is crucial the government does all it can to ensure the UK retains its shipping expertise and keeps its competitive edge over emerging new shipping centres.
?The government recently announced a £30 million "green bus fund" to help bus companies buy new low carbon buses. This is exactly the sort of investment which should also be going to the Maritime sector to help them safeguard the future supply of skilled British maritime professionals. It is now over two and half years since the government received proposals from the shipping unions on how to improve maritime training and employment and it is totally unacceptable that the government have still not issued a response.?