A national programme aimed at securing the future of the shipbuilding and repair industry is being launched in Newcastle. Government and industry are pumping £7m into the research, advice, marketing and aid scheme - more than a third of which will benefit the North-East. Co-backer the Shipbuilders and Shiprepairers Association said it is "central to the future of the UK shipbuilding, repair and conversion industry". The three-year scheme, one of the biggest Government investments in the industry since denationalisation, is hoped to bring more work to North-East yards.
Research to improve efficiency and use of technology by companies will be led by world-class marine technology experts at Newcastle University, where the programme will be launched today.George Bruce, senior lecturer and one of the programme's leaders, is confident it will pay dividends for an industry which has laid off hundreds of Tyneside workers this year, including around 300 at Cammell Laird's yard in Hebburn.
"There have been major problems in the industry for the last 25 years because this sector has overcapacity," he said. "This will help companies become significantly more efficient and competitive, and enable them to market themselves better to attract new business."There will be short-term aid to help improve companies but the fund will also give leverage to open up other funding sources." Representatives from major companies and organisations nationwide are being informed about the success of pilot schemes carried out in London, Glasgow and Northern Ireland, using some of the initiatives.