Maritime cadets to receive further COVID-19 funding as SMarT scheme extended

Maritime cadets will continue to receive COVID-19 funding, with the training scheme extended once more.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has confirmed a further six-month extension to the Maritime Training (SMarT) Fund, for cadets unable to finish their training due to COVID, something the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) has long been calling for.

The scheme had already been extended last year, to mean funding extensions will now be available for up to 12 months in total for each eligible cadet. 

Commenting, Kathryn Neilson, Director of the MNTB said:

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our future seafarers’ training and education, and it is absolutely critical that our UK cadets are given every opportunity to complete their training, despite the challenges.  We are absolutely thrilled that the MCA have listened to our plea to provide additional funding to support our cadets through this difficult time. This 6 months extension will benefit those cadets whose training has been severely impacted by COVID.”

Cadets normally have a SMarT funding period of up to 150-weeks (almost three years) to gain their Certificate of Competency (CoC). But, due to the disruption of the pandemic, allowances have been made to provide more time to complete training, with a maximum of 202 weeks now funded.

The extension comes in response to feedback from the industry. It means that more cadets will remain sponsored as they continue to develop their skills and knowledge.

The scheme ensures that sponsoring companies can claim for cadets where they have been unable to complete their training and obtain their CoC because there has been a delay in taking an MCA written exam due to the impact of COVID-19, or STCW safety courses were unavailable for the same reason. The companies will also be able to claim if they were unable to either obtain sea service or complete their MCA approved long course at college due to the impacts of COVID-19.

Maritime Minister, Robert Courts said: “Cadets are the lifeblood of maritime and the future of our proud nautical heritage.

“As global leaders in seafarer training, it’s important that the UK sets an example by supporting those who have been unable to finish their training due to the pandemic – inspiring a new generation of Cadets and keeping the UK at the forefront of international maritime.”

Katy Ware, Director of UK Maritime Services, said: “We know that COVID has had an ongoing impact on training and that many cadets have been unable to complete their training in the time they would normally be expected to.

“We have extended before and, after listening to industry feedback about what was needed, decided to extend the support further to deliver on that. Cadets are the future of maritime and we must do all we can to support them.”

Any extension to funding will be available for eligible cadets up to and including 31 October 2024 and requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Full details and what supporting evidence must be submitted by the training provider can be found in MIN670.