President of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Kenneth MacLeod, has today (Wednesday) called for shipping companies in the UK’s Tonnage Tax system to be allowed to train Merchant Navy ratings as part of their training commitment under the regime – to boost employment and careers for young people in the UK.
Shipping companies can apply to be part of the Tonnage Tax regime – a system of taxation that allows UK shipping to be internationally competitive. Being part of tonnage tax means that shipping companies must train one new officer cadet annually for every 15 officers they employ. Merchant Navy ratings are the support staff onboard a ship – they are skilled seafarers who work in the deck, engine, catering or communications departments on all different types of ships.
Mr MacLeod said: “The UK Chamber has long believed that changes are needed to include the training of ratings as one of the options for fulfilling the UK Tonnage Tax training commitment.
“I went to sea as a junior rating, working in the galley on a Clyde steamer, and that gave me a taste for life in the Merchant Navy.
“I want others to have the same opportunities for training that I had, so that we can boost the numbers of UK ratings and give more young people the chance of a career at sea.”
The UK Chamber President has written to the Shipping Minister, Stephen Hammond, asking for changes to allow UK ratings to be formally included as an option in the Tonnage Tax training commitment. Previous discussions between industry, Government and trade unions supported a new provision for companies to be able to take on three trainee ratings per 15 officers, as another option alongside the one cadet per 15 currently included in the scheme. These proposals were put forward some years ago jointly by the UK Chamber, Nautilus UK and RMT, but since then talks have stalled.
Mr MacLeod said: “The UK Chamber has for a long time said that it will do all it can to help move discussions on the tonnage tax training commitment forward quickly and successfully, but it is time for this also to be taken up actively by the seafaring unions, particularly the RMT.
“At a time of continued youth unemployment, it is vital to make this work both for the success of the industry and of the future workforce.
“Demand for quality UK ratings exists particularly in the offshore and ferry sectors, and the tools within tonnage tax remain the best mechanism available to widen training opportunities and meet this demand.”