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Consultation: new qualifications for tidal Inland Waterways

We have been developing a new set of qualifications for tidal Inland Waterways which offer more steps towards BML Tier 1 Level 2 certification, and a higher qualification beyond it. We will not introduce these new qualifications unless operators want them, so we want to know your views.

NB: This is NOT about the MCA changing the rules for the Boatmaster Licence: the MCA has no intention of doing that.

Why has this come up?

Some time ago the MSA created a Diploma within our Maritime Studies Qualification suite which provides a structured route, approved by the MCA, for anyone who wants to gain the underpinning knowledge they need for BML Tier 1 Level 2 certification. The Diploma also forms the basis of the Government-funded apprenticeship. (The existing, experience-based, route to MCA certification remains; the Diploma route is an alternative).

More recently our BML Working Group has been considering two things:

  • interest from operators on the tidal Thames in having a series of steps up towards full Boatmaster certification (Tier 1 Level 2), so that people on the lower rungs have something to aim for (and some recognition for their achievements) in place of the all-or-nothing Diploma;
  • a worry that the Diploma is ‘only’ a Level 2 qualification. Though employer practice varies, that licence formally permits someone who holds it to be Master of a substantial passenger vessel, ie to have a position of real authority on the back of a Level 2 qualification.

The Working Group has debated various options and recommended to the MSA Board that there should be four qualifications available for inland waterways crew, as follows:

Level 2 Award in Maritime Studies: Watch Rating

Level 2 Certificate in Maritime Studies: Seamanship

Level 2 Certificate in Maritime Studies: Boatmaster, Tidal Inland Waterways

Level 3 Diploma in Maritime Studies: Boatmaster, Tidal Inland Waterways

(The terms Award / Certificate / Diploma indicate the size of the qualification – how fat it is – not how difficult it is).

The full consultation paper (3 pages) is: BML Qualifications Consultation Paper February 2017

What do you think?

We would be grateful for your responses to three questions:

  1. Do you agree that we should replace the existing Diploma with the first three qualifications set out above?
  2. Do you agree that we should create the proposed new Level 3 Diploma (possibly with different content from that in the draft)?
  3. If you said ‘yes’ to Question 2, would your company use that qualification?

Please e-mail your response to Iain Mackinnon at the MSA ([email protected]) by the end of 10th March.



MSA response to the Maritime Growth Study Review, Feb 2017

The MSA has responded to the parallel calls for evidence from the Department for Transport and the Transport Select Committee, both of which are reviewing the Maritime
Growth Study.

In our evidence we say that with the spotlight now very clearly on exports in the wake of the referendum to leave the EU, we think it would be right to add a recommendation around exporting our world-renowned expertise in maritime training.

Read our full evidence (3pp) here: MSA response to the Maritime Growth Study Review February 2017


MSA raises questions about the role of qualifications in apprenticeships

The MSA is concerned that the Government’s approach to the place of qualifications in apprenticeships risks confusing employers and disadvantaging apprentices.

We therefore responded in detail to the draft Strategic Guidance published by the new Institute for Apprenticeships, which starts work in April as an arms-length body created by the Department for Education. The IfA proposed a number of “core principles”, one of which is that “an apprenticeship … is a recognised ‘accreditation’ ”. We commented that while we see the merit in the IfA’s ambition, we worry that it is premature to apply it quite so comprehensively at this early stage. The IfA risks confusing employers and disadvantaging apprentices whose ‘accreditation’ is still poorly understood in the labour market.

Our full response is here: MSA response to the IfA's Strategic Guidance January 2017.



Maritime Growth Study

The MSA has welcomed the Maritime Growth Study with a Press Release pointing to the fact that nine of the 18 recommendations relate to skills and education. They were always in the brief, but Lord Mountevans has given skills much more prominence in the final report, and we are delighted to see it. We have also said that we are keen to use our expertise, reach and contacts to support next steps.


Apprenticeship certificates and Skills for Logistics

Skills for Logistics – which manages the process of checking eligibility before issuing certificates for maritime apprentices – has closed for business, and that work is now done by IMI, another Sector Skills Council. The contact address for the moment is [email protected]

Practically, arrangements should work every bit as smoothly as before, but if you have any questions or concerns please contact the Secretary to the MSA, Iain Mackinnon, on [email protected] or 0208 99 88 77 2.


MSA publishes its evidence to the Maritime Growth Strategy

In its evidence to the Maritime Growth Strategy team the MSA has called on them to cast their net wider in defining the maritime sector. Drawing-on our own uniquely-wide coverage we think the scale of the maritime sector may be as much as a third bigger than the team has defined it, by limiting its definition to shipping, ports and maritime services.

We also draw attention to the scale and significance of maritime training and education, and the value of protecting and developing the training sector.

The MSA's response (4pp) is here.


The Border Force becomes our 15th member

The Border Force is the part of the Home Office which secures the UK's border by carrying out immigration and customs controls for people and goods entering the country. To do its job it runs five fast cutters, with the latest - HMC Protector - launched by the Home Secretary in April 2014, and it is because of the range of maritime skills involved that the Border Force sought to join the MSA.