A new Merchant Navy officer cadet programme is being introduced at the NAFC Marine Centre by Shetland School of Nautical Studies (SSNS) in the autumn.
The new course has been developed in partnership with several major UK nautical colleges, and introduces a National Certificate in Maritime Studies into the first college phase, to provide a wider foundation on which to build the HNC/HND studies which occur in the later years of the programme.
The National Certificate is common to both the Deck and Engineer Officer routes, allowing a common approach to be developed for some foundation units.
Numbers of applicants to the Merchant Navy have soared in the last six months; as a result of both the Scottish Government campaign to raise the profile of the Merchant Navy, and the very successful STV series The Merchant Navy, and the standard of the applications received have generally been of very high quality.
At the same time, the global recession has led some ship owners to be hesitant in committing themselves to offering training berths for the three-year cadet programmes, when they are unsure whether they may have to lay up ships in the near future.
SSNS has agreed with sponsors to delay the deck cadet intake until 30th October, while they wait for shipping companies to confirm final berth availability. The engineer cadets will be starting on 7th September as previously arranged.
SSNS head Jan Rigden said: “The cadet programme has been a big success for us, and it is unfortunate that at the same time as applications have increased, the global recession has reduced the number of training berths available.
“We were hoping to increase our cadet intake by 25 per cent this year, but a training berth is an essential requirement of the cadet programme. The sponsors have indicated that a later start to the deck cadet programme should provide the required number of berths.”