The UK's reputation as a seafaring nation is under threat because a new generation of Britons who are reluctant to go to sea.

Maritime industries face a huge shortfall in sailors partly due to technology-obsessed youngsters being unwilling to leave wifi behind. Almost two-thirds of ships do not provide internet for staff.  

Shipping firms are now calling on the government to raise awareness of opportunities in the industry and invest in giving people the skills to work at sea.

Figures show there is currently a global shortfall of 16,500 deck and engineer officers, which is set to rise sharply in coming years.

The UK Chamber of Shipping says firms are beginning to recognise that new recruits want the internet on ships so they can stay in touch with social media.

Industry figures also fear that school and university career advisers are poorly-informed about jobs in shipping and in ports.

A report, released as part of Seafarers Awareness Week, says the majority of young people have little or no knowledge of careers in the maritime industry.

Only two per cent say they have been given careers advice about the maritime industry, compared to professional services (18%), science and engineering (21%) and retail (14%)

When asked which of those they thought offered good prospects, only one in 20 picked the maritime industry, the report states.

Seafarers UK's Director General, Commodore Barry Bryant, said: 'There is an urgent need for serious investment in our young people who want to work at sea, both from the Government by allocating more funds for training, and from the shipping industry by ensuring that all British cadets are guaranteed time at sea to become qualified. Without increased investment in the UK's maritime skills base, we will face a serious shortage of men and women who in due course will move from seafaring to shore-based roles, such as port operations, crew manning services, ship broking, chartering and insurance.'

A spokesman for the UK Chamber of Shipping, said: "Millennials coming through definitely have a certain expectation that they need to be connected to the internet, and employers are starting to recognise this.'

Around 115,000 people work in the UK maritime industry which is worth £11billion to the UK economy.
Of those around 70,000 people work on ships, including in the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and fishing fleets.


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