Industry and unions welcomed this week’s launch of the Government-sponsored Shipbuilding Forum, designed to boost UK shipyards’ competitiveness.
Launching the Department of Trade and Industry initiative, industry minister John Battle said he wanted ‘to work closely with the shipbuilding industry and all the various companies to look at ways of improving the performance of the industry in the UK’.
The Forum will study ‘practical ways of analysing the industry’s performance and increasing UK yards’ share of the EU shipbuilding market,’ the DTI said.
It added that all the participating groups and companies were ‘very supportive’ of Monday’s launch.
The Forum has set up four working groups, which will present their conclusions by the end of the year, said Alan Robson, general secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions.
‘We’ve been pressing the Government that something needs to be done to help the industry,’ Robson said. ‘This initiative is a very welcome shift in the perception that shipbuilding has had its day.’
The four working groups are looking at the system of subsidies to the industry around the world, how relations between shipyards and suppliers can be improved, how to improve yards’ products through investment and innovation, and ways to improve training and employee prospects.
The working groups’ final report will conclude with analysis of the issues and recommend a way forward for the industry, according to the DTI.
This week’s Transport White Paper separately outlined an ‘integrated shipping policy’ which aims to promote shipping as an efficient and environmentally friendly means of carrying UK trade. It also aims ‘to foster the growth of an efficient, UK-owned merchant fleet’.