MPs call for all for action to end shortfall of 5,000 seafarers

Daily Echo: Staffing crisis at Southampton-based Maritime and Coastguard Agency Staffing crisis at Southampton-based Maritime and Coastguard Agency

The Government must act to deal with a potential 5,000 shortfall in trained seafarers, says a report by MPs.

Unless action is taken, either foreign officers could be recruited to fill the gaps or maritime jobs and businesses will move overseas, warned the House of Commons transport committee.

The MPs also said the Southampton-based Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) was taking on significant new responsibilities while its budget was being squeezed and while it was carrying ''a sizeable number of vacancies in key posts''.

Calling for a review of the MCA, the report said there was a risk that the agency ''will increasingly struggle to discharge its regulatory responsibilities''.

The committee also said it was ''concerned that senior maritime professionals have suggested that budget cuts are undermining the work of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)''.

The report went on: ''We look to the MAIB's chief inspector to inform us if budgetary constraints prevent him from adequately discharging his duties.''

The committee said that in 2011 it had been predicted that, within a decade, the UK would have 5,000 fewer deck and engineering officers than the maritime sector would require.

 

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The report went on: ''If this prediction is borne out, either foreign officers will be recruited to fill the gaps or maritime jobs and businesses will move overseas.

"We recommend that the Government make an explicit commitment to address fully the predicted shortfall in trained seafarers by 2021.''

The report also said that the MAIB had identified a risk that the crew of wind farm passenger transfer vessels may not always be sufficiently qualified for the work they undertake.

Daily Echo: Maritime and Coastguard Agency in Southampton

MCA base in Southampton

The committee said: ''This is a significant safety risk to the staff servicing offshore wind farms. We recommend that the Government work with the relevant industry groups to increase the minimum qualifications for the crew of wind farm passenger transfer vessels so that they better reflect the seamanship required for this work.

''The aim should be to introduce new minimum qualifications by 2016, with voluntary compliance with higher standards before then.''

Launching the report today, the committee's chairman Louise Ellman said: ''The UK is a globally competitive location for shipping. The maritime sector earns £8.8 billion to £11.8 billion for the economy and supports 214,000 jobs.

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''The Government's new maritime strategy poses the right questions about UK shipping but does not yet provide compelling answers on a range of key points that will have a major impact on this valuable sector of our economy.''

On the predicted shortfall in jobs, Mrs Ellman said: ''In particular, it is unclear how the Government plans to address the looming skills gap.

''Unless action is taken to address this key challenge, valuable maritime businesses may either have to rely on foreign recruits or opt to move overseas.''

She added that ministers should review MCA funding levels, adding: ''Without more resources for the MCA it is hard to see how the UK can continue to lead the delivery of high-quality shipping standards or grow as a global shipping base and a centre for maritime services available to vessels of all nationalities.''

Welcoming the report, UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Guy Platten said many shipping companies reckoned the MCA ''can be disjointed, enforcing regulation inconsistently across the country and, frankly, paying its skilled staff uncompetitive salaries''.

Mr Platten said the MCA must become ''more commercially focused'' but a review of the agency was unnecessary.

He said he shared the committee's concerns about seafarer workforce levels, adding: ''Government funding for maritime training needs to become more flexible to cope with demand.''

 

Comments (5)

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10:34am Wed 26 Mar 14

becksbeare says...

Perhaps if the MCA stopped advertising their jobs as Fixed Term appointments they might attract more people to them - I applied for a couple of vacancies with them, but was not willing to give up a full time permanent position for something that wasn't secure.
Also, the MCA have had several rounds of redundancies over the last 5-10 years - again, not something that inspires confidence in a potential employee!
Perhaps if the MCA stopped advertising their jobs as Fixed Term appointments they might attract more people to them - I applied for a couple of vacancies with them, but was not willing to give up a full time permanent position for something that wasn't secure. Also, the MCA have had several rounds of redundancies over the last 5-10 years - again, not something that inspires confidence in a potential employee! becksbeare
  • Score: 4

11:25am Wed 26 Mar 14

Beer Monster says...

becksbeare wrote:
Perhaps if the MCA stopped advertising their jobs as Fixed Term appointments they might attract more people to them - I applied for a couple of vacancies with them, but was not willing to give up a full time permanent position for something that wasn't secure.
Also, the MCA have had several rounds of redundancies over the last 5-10 years - again, not something that inspires confidence in a potential employee!
Agreed, and also having previously applied for a few vacancies with them myself, I found their application process a proverbial pain in the rear end, and thus far more aggravation than its worth.
[quote][p][bold]becksbeare[/bold] wrote: Perhaps if the MCA stopped advertising their jobs as Fixed Term appointments they might attract more people to them - I applied for a couple of vacancies with them, but was not willing to give up a full time permanent position for something that wasn't secure. Also, the MCA have had several rounds of redundancies over the last 5-10 years - again, not something that inspires confidence in a potential employee![/p][/quote]Agreed, and also having previously applied for a few vacancies with them myself, I found their application process a proverbial pain in the rear end, and thus far more aggravation than its worth. Beer Monster
  • Score: 5

11:27am Wed 26 Mar 14

not-me says...

Wasn't it the government who reviewed the MCA and decided that they could do more with less in the first place by getting shot of a number of control centres?
Wasn't it the government who reviewed the MCA and decided that they could do more with less in the first place by getting shot of a number of control centres? not-me
  • Score: 5

12:22pm Wed 26 Mar 14

Lone Ranger. says...

....... As usual the Tories know the price of everything ..... and the Value of NOTHING
....... As usual the Tories know the price of everything ..... and the Value of NOTHING Lone Ranger.
  • Score: 0

5:14pm Wed 26 Mar 14

loosehead says...

I thought Labour was saying there's no jobs well here's some so where are all the applicants?
Bit sick of a Labour supporter to attack this Government after the good job they're doing mopping up the mess Labour left us in.
I thought Labour was saying there's no jobs well here's some so where are all the applicants? Bit sick of a Labour supporter to attack this Government after the good job they're doing mopping up the mess Labour left us in. loosehead
  • Score: 0

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