Marine training on the river has been given a major boost with the launch of the Thames Skills Academy.

The organisation, which has strong backing from the industry, is designed to promote and co-ordinate crew training and development.

Backers describe at as “a new, employer-led organisation that will provide marine and ports operations training, development, and support a coherent career path for people starting their working life on the Thames.“

The initiative is supported by the Port of London Authority, Transport for London, Tideway (who are delivering the Thames Tideway Tunnel) and the Company of Watermen & Lightermen.
The development is seen as essential with increased activity on the Tideway - - the number of passenger trips is expected to double to 20 million, and freight moved between terminals on the Thames tol rise rapidly back to the 2014 peak of over five million tonnes.

TSA chairman Richard Everitt said: ““Well-trained, skilled people are vital to making the most of the new opportunities

“A busier river offers both the opportunity of new jobs, but also the challenge of more complex navigation.  That’s why safety will be a priority for the trainees accessing courses through the TSA.” 

Earlier River Thames News spoke to pleasure boat operator French Brothers and Thames Clippers boss Sean Collins about the career opportunities the river offers.

Next generation

Chris Livett is chief executive of Livett’s Group, operators of passenger boats and  barges, and has worked on the Thames on the production of films including James Bond’s Spectre .  He said: “The TSA will provide Thames operators like me with a one stop shop for potentially all our marine and afloat training needs. 

"To navigate a boat on the Thames, whether carrying passengers or freight, you need a Boatmasters Licence with the relevant endorsements like local knowledge, towing and pushing, large passenger vessel, or high speed.  The TSA will help train the next generation of Boatmasters Licence holders, supporting crew and customer service staff to get the extra skills the business needs.”

Andy Mitchell, CEO, Tideway said:“The TSA is key to our goal of reconnecting London and Londoners with the River Thames.

“By working with employers in the design and delivery of river training, we can continue to develop a highly skilled workforce on the Thames.  This will also ensure the professionalism and competence of employees working on the river is recognised through accredited training programmes delivered by high quality training providers that meet employer’s needs.

“It is also central to allowing our industry to achieve transformational health and safety standards and giving those working on the river the best opportunity to capitalise on a reinvigorated river economy, spurred on by our work and future projects.”

PLA Chief harbour master Bob Baker said: “The river will play an important role in addressing the transport challenges faced by a growing London.  It’s a marine superhighway which can unlock the congestion on the roads and help lower emissions too. 

" We can only realise that potential with the well trained people that the TSA will help to create.  One thing I’m really excited about is the TSA’s plans to establish the first formal inland waterways deckhand qualification.  This is vital as it will act as a stepping stone to the Boatmasters Licence.”

Story dated May 26th 2016