New drive to combat threat to UK maritime sectorNews // January 17, 2003
"Unless steps are taken urgently to halt the current drift in recruitment away from the Britain's maritime industries we could throw away centuries of world leadership in this sector," he said.
His warning came as he launched a new campaign aimed to raise public awareness of the value of the maritime sector.
Sea Vision UK, launched on 2 January at the London Boat Show, brings 60 organisations from all parts of the maritime sector together for the first time to raise the profile of the modern maritime sector and prevent a recruitment crisis.
Findings from a MORI poll published on 2 January show the extent of the problem:75% of people questioned would not consider a job in the maritime sector.
Nearly 25% fear or dislike the sea.
Only 1% of the public appreciate how much of the UK's imports and exports go by sea.
In fact the UK maritime sector is the largest maritime cluster in Europe and leads the world in many areas. It is a high-tech modern sector with a turnover about twice that of aerospace or agriculture and it employs more people than all the utilities together.
"Many people in this country have lost the connection with the sea that was once part of our heritage," said John Murray, chief executive of the Society of Maritime Industries, "and too few recognise the massive contribution made by the maritime sector to our national economy - with a turnover of £37 billion and employing a quarter of a million people.
"A maritime-related career does not necessarily mean a sea-going one. There are thousands of job opportunities in technology, design, manufacturing, financial services and other fields."
"Clearly many do not have a clear picture of what life in the maritime sector is all about in the 21st century." Concludes Sir Christopher Morgan. "A far greater appreciation and understanding are fundamental to our future as a leading maritime nation and a key player in the world economy."