Increased boat traffic on the Thames could result in a shortage of qualified commercial skippers on the river, a trade body has warned.

Many of the materials and excavated waste on the Thames Tideway Tunnel construction will be carried by barge. And London Mayor Boris Johnston has also announced his aim to encourage a doubling of river passenger journeys and the opening of new piers.

The result, says the Passenger Boat Association, will be a big demand for qualified skippers. Now the association is spearheading a campaign to encourage more young people to consider the industry as a career.

The association's Operations Manager Roger Flitter said: “It is difficult to quantify but there is no doubt there will be a huge demand for qualified masters and crew. It means some parts of the industry could face a shortage – initially on the Thames and later probably elsewhere in the country.

“The immediate demand will be created by the need for a large number of vessels for the Tideway Tunnel.

“Another problem we have is that we have a mature workforce. We are keen to work with other training providers to interest more young people in the industry.”

The association says besides skippers there are opportunities for trained crew and staff on the hospitality side of the passenger boat industry.

Eleven of the 24 Thames tunnel construction sites are beside the river and 90% of excavated soil will be transported away by barge.

Link to Passenger Boat Association website

Story dated Jan 18th 2014.

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