Nautilus welcomed a major new report which warns the UK government that seafarer numbers will continue to decline - hitting defence and economic interests - without increased levels of support.
The Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme report highlights the value of the existing £15m-a-year assistance, pointing out that for every £1 the government spends on SMarT there is a £4.80 return to the nation's GDP.
The review was carried out for the Department for Transport by the Frazer-Nash consultancy in response to one of the key recommendations of the Maritime Growth Study and it concludes that SMarT is 'a valuable incentive to industry' and that cadet numbers would plummet if it was withdrawn.
But it warns that the UK's historic strength in the global maritime sector is under threat as a result of factors including the lower cost of training and employing foreign seafarers, as well as the way in which many other countries are 'aggressively investing' in the industry and providing financial incentives to attract shipping business.
The report recommends that SMarT should be increased to ensure that UK training costs are in line with other northern European countries, who not only provide assistance for maritime training but more generally cover the full cost of university education.
The study also includes a series of recommendations to improve the administration of the scheme and to optimise the utilisation of available training berths.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson commented: 'This is a very welcome study that gives detailed and rigorous support to the arguments we have been making for many years now.
'Its core messages are very straightforward and it presents the government with a simple choice: do nothing and watch our seafarer numbers continue to decline, or increase support for training a workforce which will richly repay the investment made in them,' he added.
'It is now imperative that the government acts urgently on these recommendations,' Mr Dickinson said. 'It's two years since the growth study was published and we now have the evidence that supports the case for real and positive action.
This is a very welcome study that gives detailed and rigorous support to the arguments we have been making for many years now