The UK Government’s purpose is for Britain’s maritime sector to be as great as it can be and to be “greater than we imagined possible over recent years,” according to the UK’s Shipping & Ports Minister.
And he issued a challenge to the industry to identify the key trade and export opportunities and what it thought it needed from this government to make them happen.
Addressing a reception of Government and maritime leaders at the Houses of Parliament, John Hayes, CBE, MP praised the work being undertaken by Maritime UK in implementing the recommendations of the UK’s Maritime Growth Strategy and said that “we are in the right place, at the forefront of the efforts to secure the best deal for the UK as we leave the EU.
“However, as Benjamin Disraeli so eloquently put it, the secret of success is constancy to purpose. Constancy means we cannot afford to relax; we must make the best of every opportunity. Constancy means we must commit to working together both now and right up to the time when the UK exits the European Union and long beyond. Constancy means we must be absolutely confident that the world knows we are ready to grasp these opportunities.”
He told invited guests: “Well I am going to present you with a challenge to identify the key trade and export opportunities and what you think you need from this government to make them happen. Of course the gateway for our exports is through our ports and what we buy comes that way too. So it’s not enough to get goods off the ships, we have to get them to where they are needed.”
He said the time was right for an assessment of where the industry and Government is on the recommendations relating to all aspects of the Maritime Growth Study.
“I want to make it quite clear that this is not a case of redoing work that’s already been done. I always envisaged the study as a ‘living document’; a ‘starting gate’ not a ‘finishing line’. It is right in any event to look again at the recommendations from the study a year or so on, to be sure we had our priorities right. Certainly, leaving the EU obliges us to consider those priorities afresh. I want you all to be involved in that assessment process,” he said.
Focusing on one of the Study’s initiatives – skills – the Minister said that the UK prided itself on producing many of the best-trained officers and crew serving on ships around the world. As well as those with expertise in areas such as law, insurance, finance and the logistical skills for managing ships and ports. “An incredible skills base that supports the whole maritime sector,” he said.
He added: “Our pride in all we are, and confidence in all we can be, must be measured against increasing competition we face, especially from the Far East. To develop the right strategies and support to maintain and enhance our existing reputation for high quality.
“The government currently supports maritime training through the £15 million support for maritime training budget. This covers just over a third of the cost. We are reviewing the provision of that support and are talking to you in the maritime industry about options. You will already know that the government is also committed to increasing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships; three million apprenticeship starts by 2020. The maritime sector has a very strong record on apprenticeships, and I’m delighted to see new opportunities being developed,” he told guests.
The Minister said that he wanted to see the number of trainees – both ratings and officers – increase and that he was “open to exploring innovative options at how we do this when it comes to supporting trainees in the further development of their careers.
“And let us be clear, I want to be sure that we are looking across the board at the skills and opportunities our sector needs. From those working on inland waterways, to those working in our ports and onboard ship. We have to think not just of opportunities at sea but ensuring that we make best use of that skills and experience on shore,” he said
Looking forward to what he described as the flagship event that is London International Shipping Week 2017, the Minister concluded by saying: “Britain has an extraordinary maritime history. So many triumphs, so strong. And we have so many strengths today. A strong flag; competitive maritime services; world-leading expertise. We have clear and shared commitment to work together to do more, to be still greater; to broadcast UK maritime’s successes and significance; to promote our maritime sector to the rest of the world.
“A place that is open for business. To recognise and to celebrate our strengths and build on them. A continuing competitive advantage; to identify and overcome the barriers to success. Finding new ways to attract maritime businesses to the UK’s shores, and continuing to support the best and the brightest to reach their potential in their maritime careers. That is what we all want. A nation that can be proud of our maritime sector. Proud of the glory of our maritime past. Of what was then. Still more proud of what we can be in the future. Of what we will be then.”
He added: “We will reach beyond our doubts. Stretch further than our hopes. Do our best. Be the best.”