Review of support for Maritime Training published

Published: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 10:26

The DfT has published an assessment of the support for maritime training (SMarT) scheme, which makes recommendations on areas including funding and data collection. The report from Fraser-Nash incorporates findings from Oxford Economics.  The recommendations are not policy but will feed into government decision making.


The UK government has a number of support measures in place to support training:

  • The Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme provides funding for training of officers and ratings, and is paid to shipping companies.

  • Tonnage tax is a scheme that offers a preferential tax regime to companies; a requirement for being part of tonnage tax is that companies commit to training seafarers.

The shipping industry state that SMarT is influential in deciding how many UK cadets are trained.

In 2015, the budget for SMarT was £15 million. SMarT1 is the majority of this subsidy and provides industry with approximately 30% of the cost to train officer cadets to the 1st Certificate of Competence (1st CoC). This has declined gradually as a proportion of the cost of training from a peak of around just under 50%.

The average cost of training is £59,150.  Tuition fees and a training allowance costs are borne by industry.  There is no central repository of integrated, good quality information about the training and career paths of cadets against which to measure SMarT’s impact on the industry.

Value of training

The study suggests that training seafarers represents good value for money. For every £1 the government spend on SMarT1 there is a £4.8 return to UK GDP.

Future Needs

The report projects global labour requirements will increase at 3.2% per annum for officers and 1.3% for ratings. There is currently a demand for Deck and Engineer Officers of any nationality in the UK shipping industry and this demand will increase in future. Employment in the UK shipping fleet is characterised by the increasing employment of non-UK seafarers and an ageing UK national workforce.

There is still a need for ex-seafarers in on-shore roles for the maritime cluster. However there is anecdotal evidence that companies are finding alternatives to using qualified seafarers and developing staff through other routes.


The report recommends:

  • that SMarT funding is retained and that if the desire is to increase UK trainees, it needs to be increased
  • the development of an industry database to collect data from colleges and sponsors to track trainees and seafarers through their careers, to provide good quality robust data on which government and industry can base strategic and policy decisions.

The report is available at: