Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers
London & South East Branch

UK maritime looks ahead to 2050

by Richard Scott FICS, member of London & South East Branch Committee, 7 February 2019

In late January 2019 the UK Department for Transport published a comprehensive 336-page report entitled Maritime 2050 – Navigating the Future. This report is based on a study initiated by the government twelve months earlier. It looks at how the UK’s multi-faceted maritime activities - including shipping, ports, services, engineering and leisure marine industries - have been developing, and what action is needed to make progress over the next three decades.

The research and action plan included in the report was prepared with assistance from consultants PA Consulting. An expert panel of senior business, professional and academic people contributed. Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling commented that the new study is “bold and aspirational, cementing our ambition to be a world leading maritime nation long into the future”.

Emphasising the large scale of this review, the executive summary runs to 23 pages of text containing 73 paragraphs identifying action required. Within these paragraphs are extensive and detailed government commitments to provide assistance and help to shape and promote all the UK maritime activities, over the period up to 2050. It is a breathtaking agenda, and arguably a huge challenge, necessitating sustained motivation.

A striking feature of the report is the frequency with which the word ‘government’ (of the UK) occurs - mentioned sixty-one times in the summary alone - and how much the government’s contribution is highlighted. The context in which the word is used is typically a statement of government intention to take some action or provide support to maritime activities. In numerous instances a firm pledge is given about what the government can do or attempt over a period of years. If these promises are fulfilled, it will be regarded as a remarkable achievement.

Of particular interest from the viewpoint of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers is the coverage of maritime education and training. As the report acknowledges “UK maritime business services lead the world”. Specifically mentioned are categories of shipbroking, education, insurance, accounting and law, while other aspects not mentioned include consultancy, information provision and publishing.

The report states that “the UK is justifiably proud of its maritime education system”. An example given is the new London School of Shipping evening classes run by our own Institute. Also revealed is the government’s aim to set up a Maritime Skills Commission to report on existing and future skills needs. One of the medium-term recommendations is that the proposed body will “consider how to ensure professional development plans are built into training programmes across all roles”.         

This recommendation, accompanied by numerous others, and the detailed assessment make the report a worthy successor to previous government-sponsored maritime sector reviews. It follows in the footsteps of the famous 1970 ‘Rochdale Report’ (Committee of Inquiry into Shipping, Report) and the 1990 British Shipping: Challenges and Opportunities. Subsequently in 1998 deputy prime minister John Prescott (who had worked in shipping before becoming a politician) was instrumental in producing British Shipping - Charting a new course.

Maritime 2050 – Navigating the Future available for free, please click.