National Maritime welcomes the news that the Department for Education will work with the National Shipbuilding Office to establish a UK Shipbuilding Skills Taskforce (UKSST). The Taskforce will form a partnership between government, industry, training providers & trade representative bodies.
With #smes making up 99.8 % of all businesses in the UK & accounting for 60% of all jobs, we hope that maritime SMEs are given the opportunity to lead this taskforce & work alongside those in education & tier 1 organisations, to help build a true picture of the industry’s skills needs & offer real solutions to skills shortages, particularly those related to new & emerging technologies.
SMEs have a key role to play in driving the success of the National Shipbuilding Strategy & UK business. Working closer together with these businesses & including them in the UKSST, offers greater transformative potential for the sector. For too long our SMEs have been denied access to these work groups by several maritime trade bodies who lobby government departments on behalf of their institutionally linked membership & some of the UK’s biggest maritime businesses.
Of course, the so-called skills gap is old news to the UK job market, businesses & education are both affected by it. There are some great examples of current direct partnerships between education & businesses who together are taking direct action towards addressing the skills gap & we see the UK’s Diversity in Maritime & Careers Taskforces working closely with the Maritime Skills Commission.
And of course diversity should not be defined by gender spread but by the diversity of skills. Building ships of these sizes requires a diverse skilled workforce. With investment our UK network of over 70 specialist ship & boat yards will enable us to fulfill a broad range of new builds & repairs, but we will need to build up our shipbuilding expertise rapidly to avoid many of these builds being placed overseas.
In 2018 I wrote about ‘Why an increased emphasis on UK #maritime skills in schools & universities may not help to reduce the sector’s skills gap? Nothing much has changed, people still have a choice about what skills they acquire & whether they use these skills on the job market. If wages in the maritime sector do not reward certain skills, they will either choose not to acquire these skills, or even if they do, they will find employment in other occupations.
The UKSST will need to address the underlying frictions that prevent wages from reflecting skills shortages, to close the skills gap for UK #shipbuilding ?
The National Maritime network & our work groups; the SME Maritime WG, UK Shipbuilding & Ship repairers- NSS Progress Board & UK Marine Hydrogen WG look forward to working with industry colleagues to support this work & promote the varied & exciting career opportunities in the shipbuilding sector.