Memorandum by the Shipbuilders and Shiprepairers
Association (FUS 5)
THE FUTURE OF THE UK SHIPPING INDUSTRY
1. UK SHIPBUILDING
The industry now employs on a direct basis some
26,000 people in UK yards, building and repairing merchant ships
and warships. Typically, some 5,000 sub-contractors will be at
work in yards as well.
About half of the merchant vessel work undertaken
in UK yards is to the account of UK shipowners and managers. Turnover
on merchant vessels work is around £500 million per year.
2. THE RELATIONSHIP
Shipbuilding and shiprepairing contracted sharply
in the UK in the 1970's and 1980's. Similar contraction was seen
in many European countries and in Japan. Building is now holding
steady, and repair and conversion have exhibited a significant
recovery in the last few years. Some ship types cannot now be
built in the UK, so UK owners have no choice but to buy from non-UK
yards. The UK capability in repair and conversion is more extensive.
SSA has worked closely with the Chamber of Shipping and with the
British Marine Equipment Council to ensure that all the key UK
elements in the maritime industry are aware of each others' requirements,
with a view to increasing the value retained in the UK.
3. MARITIME INDUSTRY
As shipyards have become busier in the last
few years, so skills shortages have appeared. Yards used to take
on a training role in excess of their own requirements to supply
skilled labour into surrounding support industries and into the
engineering sector generally. They no longer have the size or
the financial muscle to do this. Yards also were suppliers of
engineering skills to the Merchant Navy, and in their turn also
drew on the skills of Merchant Navy engineer officers and ratings.
With the reduced size of both the total yard workforce and of
the Merchant Navy, this valuable interchange of skills can only
take place on a much reduced scale.
4. SSA RECOMMENDATIONS
Against forecasts of substantial growth in the
requirements for shipping worldwide, and thus significant opportunities
of the UK maritime industries, SSA recommends the introduction
of measures to assist and encourage the growth of the UK merchant
fleet. As well as the direct benefit to the UK economy that a
large UK fleet would bring, it should be recognised that there
is a clear propensity on the part of UK shipowners to build and
repair their ships in the UK where possible, and that this would
produce yet more employment and value to the UK economy.
Further, SSA invites the Sub-Committee to recognise
the importance of the availability of an increased pool of skilled
engineering labour that would be created by an enlarged UK merchant
fleet and the value to both sides of an increased interchange
of that pool of skills between the UK fleet and UK shipyards.
30 November 1998