The Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme has been running since April 1998 for the training of officers, officer cadets and ratings. Courses must be approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB). The aim is to ensure an adequate supply of UK maritime expertise to meet the nation’s economic and strategic requirements. SMarT covers up to 50% of actual training costs and is paid to the training providers (shipping companies) who sponsor the trainees, not to individuals or colleges. Eligible Shipping Companies (TPs) must apply to become a TP within SMarT before they are able to claim for eligible trainees.
Initially there were five SMarT categories which funded training towards a first and second certificate of competency, watch rating training and also rating to officer conversions and conversions from STCW ‘78 to STCW ‘78, as amended (‘95). More information can be found in here. In 2012 SMarT categories were rationalized to SMarT 1, 3 and 5. A fixed annual budget of £12 million was announced until 31 March 2015 to support maritime training. The majority of this money was focused on supporting initial training for cadets studying at junior officer level (SMarT 1).
Unemployed seafarers wishing to train as either a Rating or who is a Rating and wishes to become an Officer, may apply for funding through the Merchant Navy Training Provider. More details can be found in here in section 14.
In February 2018 SMarT updates led to an effective doubling of support to £30 million a year, which will enable the annual intake of SMarT cadets to rise from 750 to something in the region of 1,200