Further to my announcement of 22 June 2011, I would like to inform Parliament of the outcome of the independent review into the requirement for government support for merchant navy training and skills development and how best to spend any continuing government funding.
I have concluded that continuing government support for maritime training is required. The consultants’ findings, accepted by the independent panel, were that there was a good value for money case for the retention of government funding. Evidence was presented to me showing that for each working year of a seafarer who has benefitted from government funding, approximately £14,500 in additional output is created relative to that of a UK worker displaying average productivity.
With over 90% of the UK’s import and export trade by weight transported by the maritime sector, I believe continuing government support in this area will reflect our ongoing commitment to economic growth and will help to maintain the competitiveness of this sector.
I have therefore decided to provide a budget of £12 million a year for the support for maritime training scheme for the remainder of this Parliament. In view of the forecast national shortage of trained seafarers and the need to develop the next generation of UK officers and ratings, I intend that the majority of the budget be focused on supporting initial training for cadets studying at junior officer level with the remainder supporting ratings training and ratings to officer conversion training.
I will be making a number of minor changes to the current scheme to achieve greater value for money by maximising the intake of trainees while ensuring more rigorous accountability structures are in place.
These changes are consistent with the government’s wider commitment to improve the transparency and accountability of public spending.
I will also be considering longer-term options to deliver merchant navy training within an overarching skills and apprenticeship framework.
A copy of the consultants’ findings and the recommendations made by the independent panel have been placed in the library of the House.