Our president Dr Grahaeme Henderson today told attendees of the UK Chamber’s annual summer lunch how we can lead the way in creating a safer and more prosperous maritime sector
Dr Grahaeme Henderson, president of the UK Chamber, on Wednesday addressed the Chamber’s annual summer lunch in Edinburgh, which was attended by members of the Scottish parliament and the nation’s shipping industry.
“Shipping, Scottish shipping, is important. It is the lifeblood of the economy providing for the everyday needs of our people, making possible trade with the rest of the world, and creating jobs. Simply put, without shipping, Scotland does not operate,” Dr Henderson said.
“Across Scotland, the shipping industry is considering the opportunities and challenges that Brexit represents. Our members hold diverse views on the European Union as well as, dare I say, domestic political matters, but the need to grow, to improve, to create jobs, attract investment and to drive economic growth for Scotland – is what unites us. That is our focus,” he continued.
Scotland, just like the rest of the UK, needs to benefit from Brexit, said Dr Henderson. The UK Chamber is one of the foremost trade groups that is working closely with Government to deliver important opportunities.
The president outlined three key elements that Scotland and the rest of the UK need from Brexit:
“First up, we need access to the European Union markets, currently worth over £11 billion to Scottish businesses,” he said.
“Secondly, a strong customs deal where trade can move freely through ports; without that, both the UK and the EU will be damaged unnecessarily.
“And finally access to a talented, skilled workforce, including the clear protection of EU nationals currently studying, living and working in Scotland, because their skills are crucial to the success of our businesses,” he continued.
The UK’s shipping industry needs to continue to nurture its talent and to become one of the safest, greenest industries on earth. “The Prime Minister has repeatedly said she wants to create ‘a country that works for all’,” Dr Henderson said. “We need to create ‘an industry that works for all’.”
In doing so, he said, shipping needs to undergo another step change to radically improve its safety culture.
“There is nothing more important than safety. There is nothing worse than a major incident. No-one wins. People are killed and injured. A family’s future is destroyed and time never heals,” Dr Henderson told the audience.
“In the last 10 years, there have been over 2,500 shipping incidents each year and 123 ships completely lost. Our shipping industry has a fatal accident rate 20 times that of the average British worker and five times that of construction.
“Let me give you an example: in the last 10 years around the world, there have been 60 seafarer fatalities and 145 serious injuries from testing of lifeboats alone!” he went on. “These are unacceptable statistics and we need to work together to make a significant step change improvement in safety.”
Help, he said, is at hand: “People from across the industry sharing best practice, sharing their experiences, learning from one another. That is how we create a safer culture onboard our ships.” Dr Henderson urged his audience to subscribe the UK Chamber’s new safety forum (accessible to members here).
The president also used his speech to reiterate the UK Chamber’s commitment to young people and their career prospects in shipping. Increasing government support would fund the training of at least 1,200 seafarers each year, he said. “In return, companies will guarantee cadets their first job – giving them a head-start in developing their careers,” Dr Henderson explained. Prior to the General Election, the UK Chamber ran a campaign to get parliamentary candidates to pledge support for such a funding increase.
“There are challenges, but we can overcome them. Some by ourselves, some with Government support,” Dr Henderson said, closing his speech. “The times ahead will be tough, but Scotland and the UK have been world leading for centuries – and if Government and industry work together, we will continue to be world leading for centuries more to come.”