UK Launches New Shipbuilding Taskforce

The first Shipbuilding Taskforce is to be established in the UK by the Department for Education (DfE). The initiative will aim to revive the shipbuilding industry and build world-class skills, the Society of Maritime Industries reports. It will address new technologies and climate change issues, as well as skills shortages.

Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said: “We are looking for a chair and members for our new Taskforce that will supercharge the shipbuilding industry, bringing together experts who will work together to develop a plan to plug skills gaps and get more people into rewarding jobs.”

He added: “These roles are an exciting opportunity for people who have the skills, knowledge, and experience to be at the forefront of this vital work, helping to level up opportunities for people across the UK and ensure our fantastic shipbuilding industry will go from strength to strength.”

The DfE will work with the National Shipbuilding Office (NSO) to create the UK Shipbuilding Skills Taskforce, it announced in a press release. The main aim of the 18-month long scheme will be to devise a workable strategy for the growth and development of the sector. It will study examples of best practice internationally, and focus on emerging technologies.

The Chair of the Maritime Skills Commission, Graham Baldwin, welcomed the news, emphasising that government and industry support was essential to secure the future success of shipbuilding in the UK.

The UK once had a thriving shipbuilding industry, with major yards at Glasgow, Belfast, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Newcastle, and Dundee. Many of these yards have now closed or are producing smaller vessels, as larger ocean-going ships are now more often made in Eastern countries such as Japan, China, and South Korea.

However, the government is now taking steps towards a revival. The Appledore Shipyard in North Devon has been saved from closure in 2020, for example, securing 350 jobs.

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