Ex-forces personnel can fill the maritime skills gap, says Mersey Maritime CEO

Wirral based organisation, which represents hundreds of maritime businesses across Liverpool city region, has signed the Armed Forces Covenant. Tony McDonough reports

Mersey Maritime
Chris Shirling-Rooke signing the Covenant with Britain’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones


Industry body Mersey Maritime says ex-service personnel could be crucial in solving the local maritime sector’s skills shortage over the next few years.

The Wirral based organisation, which represents hundreds of maritime businesses across Liverpool city region including Peel Ports, Atlantic Container Line (ACL), Royal Haskoning DHV and Bibby Group, has signed the Armed Forces Covenant, committing to helping ex-services personnel.

First Sea Lord 

Chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke signed the Covenant with Britain’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, at a high-level industry dinner hosted by Mersey Maritime to celebrate the First Sea Lord visiting Liverpool. Admiral Sir Philip Jones has been the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff for over two years and spoke to the guests about his role and responsibilities within the Naval Services and broader Armed Forces. 

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC said: “Mersey Maritime’s work facilitating engagement, addressing skills shortages and communicating the maritime case to a broad audience provides a real boost to businesses and organisations across the North West who share a common interest in the maritime domain. 

“I’m delighted that Mersey Maritime have publicly expressed their support for our servicemen and women by signing the Armed Forces Covenant. By tapping into the broad skills base and experience of our service leavers the maritime community stands to benefit as much as our people, so many of whom call Merseyside home.”

The signing of the Covenant was also witnessed by Commodore Philip Waterhouse, Naval Regional Commander Northern England and Isle of Man, and Geoff Nuzum, regional employer engagement North West RFCA. The dinner was attended by Mersey Maritime members and sponsored by MAS Optimisation, who are a lean management consultancy that also run a programme providing a link between industry and former services personnel. 

Significant growth

Liverpool city region’s maritime sector is worth almost £4bn annually and employs more than 28,000 people. The sector is predicting significant growth over the next decade and will need thousands more skilled people.

Mr Shirling-Rooke said: “People in the Army, Navy and Air Force are trained in a whole range of skills during their period of service to their country. Many of those skills, particularly in area such as engineering, logistics and people management, are the kinds of skills our members are crying out for. 

“We would urge all our members and businesses across the local maritime sector to consider signing the Covenant and supporting our armed forces” 

Vital support

Already supported by 407 local authorities across the UK, the Covenant focuses on helping members of the armed forces community have the same access to Government and commercial services and products as any other citizen.

This support is provided in a number of areas including education and family well-being; having a home; starting a new career; access to healthcare; financial assistance; discounted services.

Mersey Maritime’s signing of the Covenant comes just weeks after it also signed up to the Women in Maritime Charter, which aims to increase the number of women at all levels in the maritime sector.

Mr Shirling-Rooke added: “Our maritime sector is going to need many more people over the next few years. It makes perfect business sense to cast its net as wide as possible when it comes to recruitment.”

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