Jamaica aims to train more seafarers

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Jamaica is positioning itself to fill the demand for junior officers in the seafaring trade, a spin-off from the increase in world fleet, Claudia Grant, deputy director general of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) has said.

According to Grant, a Baltic International Council/International Shipowners Federation (BIMCO/ISF) study conducted in 2005, showed a shortage of 10,000 junior officers in that year, with the shortage expected to grow to 27,000 by 2015. This she says is largely due to the expansion of the European Union to include eastern European countries and the economic growth of these countries.

Grant was speaking at the Maritime Awareness Week Forum held at the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ).

With Cabinet approval of a submission to develop Jamaica as a crewing nation passed this year, Grant notes that the opportunities now open to the country could help solve its unemployment problems. The challenges now facing the project are insufficient berths for cadets and the reduction in the standard and discipline of students, but there are plans to solve these issues.

Among the short to medium-term strategies to be employed to meet the growing demand are: plans to increase the staff complement of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) and MAJ (deck and engine); target students from high and technical schools, student groups from cadets, rangers and scouts; establish a disciplinary regime at the CMI as well as a residential programme; brokering partnership agreements with shipping companies to provide berths and financing for students.

Additionally, medium to long-term goals have been identified. These include the decentralisation of training facilities; the utilisation of distance-learning technology to expand output; the development of a legal administrative framework for the employment and welfare of seafarers including crewing agencies, pensions and remittances; greater collaboration between CMI, MAJ, The HEART Trust National Training Agency as well as the Ministries of Labour and Finance.

Jamaica, Grant explained, is recognised as a responsible maritime state which makes it an ideal provider for this type of labour based on several factors including: the country’s placement on the International Maritime Organisations (IMO) white list; reciprocal recognition with several countries, which makes the employment of Jamaican officers easier; the enactment of modern legislations and the existence of a maritime administration; the position of the CMI as a regional training institution with IMO accreditation; pressures of ITF increasing the attractiveness of flag states which also produces seafarers, and the fairly young population of the country which will guarantee a steady supply.

Grant was part of a four-member panel which included Captain Hopeton Delisser, harbour master at the Port Authority of Jamaica, Fritz Pinnock, executive director for the CMI and Bertrand Smith, director of legal affairs at the MAJ.

Captain Delisser spoke to existing security measures at Jamaica’s major seaports, while Smith presented on the role of the IMO conventions in protecting the country’s maritime potential. For his part, Pinnock, spoke to the CMI’s readiness to train new students. Additionally, he called on members of the maritime industry to offer scholarships to students of the institution.