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Maritime Training On A Roller Coaster Ride

Whoever ruled the seas ruled the shores later.  This strategic truth has equal relevance to the economic growth also.  Whoever excelled in shipping has achieved tremendous economic growth later.  During the recession days of eighties, maritime education and training was not adequately geared up to meet the boom in the shipping industry.  Considering the shortfall of seafarers globally, the maritime education was then opened to private entities.  The number of Maritime Education and Training Institutions (METIs) rose from a figure of 4 in 1998, to 128 by 2005.  Private colleges were allowed to select their own candidates in accordance with the guidelines specified by the DG Shipping.  As per statistics for 2006, they are preparing 5,293 candidates annually which far outnumbered the afloat training billets available.  In accordance with the Tonnage Tax guidelines, based on Safe Manning Document, if at all two cadets are provided afloat training on each ship, we should have more than 2600 ships to take care of the backlog, ongoing training and those passing out from METIs annually.

Opening of flood gates for private institutions, without streamlining the mods operand and visualising the forthcoming havoc, is now seriously disturbing the Shipping Administration, Shipowners, METIs and the Students alike.

To streamline and refine the maritime education, training, recruitment and placement, the DGS-India has introduced several reforms during the past two years. Meanwhile, to encounter the global shortage of officers, the Shipping and Manning companies had to adopt harsh HR tactics to man their fleet.  Discretely, poaching and rivalry emerged within their fraternity.  The METIs had invested huge sums for creating infrastructure i.e. Manpower, training facilities, class rooms, hostels, laboratories, workshops, ship-in-campus etc.  They were then asked to produce proof of tie-up arrangements for afloat training for sanctioning of seats.  In short, an Institute that created facilities for 800 students (for engine & deck) had to then hunt for ship-owners having 400 ships, to manage their colleges.  Students who have already done the courses landed up on the streets hunting for training billets on board ships.  A clandestine system or a grey area emerged for extracting more money from financially stressed career seekers for a sea time berth.

The Union Ministry of Shipping, India appointed a Committee under the chairmanship of the DGS-India on Promotion of Maritime Employment in June 2006.   The ‘Committee’, in its report published in September 2007, made several recommendations and suggestions to  (a) attract youth, particularly rural youth to join Merchant Navy (b) initiate measures to meet the shortage of officers faced by Indian Shipping (c) initiate measures for availing opportunity to meet global shortage of officers so as to create employment opportunities in India and (d) adopt strategy to overcome the stiff challenges from other countries in respect of employment share of our seamen in global market. The ‘Committee’ relied on the data provided in Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO)/ International Shipping Federation (ISF) Manpower Updates 2005.  Though the statistics could be taken for guidance, the current scenario is very different from the period under that study. An International Maritime Employers Committee (IMEC) study findings revealed in the month of September 2007, states that the worldwide officer shortage is much worse than the 2.1% indicated in BIMCO/ISF study.  The IMEC members are now searching for seafarers from Vietnam, China, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Turkey etc. The IMEC study indicates that Philippines was by far the most frequently criticised country for poor training standards, and Russia and other East European countries in English proficiency.  So far as India is concerned, these problems did not exist and Indian Officers have the highest retention rate, at 90%, within IMEC Members.

Establishment of Maritime University and implementation of recommendations given in the report submitted by the ‘Committee’ may take years.  Hit the iron when it is hot.  India should stand up and grab this global opportunity for their youth, before it is too late.  India has abundant talent and training facilities. The DGS-India may please stand up and apprise the Shipping Secretary to request the Union Minister of shipping to exhort the Prime Minister to direct the External Affairs Minister to order all Indian High Commissioners / Ambassadors (hierarchy!!) to host a dinner (which they do for petty reasons also) to all the ship owners in their host country and tell them ‘gentlemen if you have the berths we have the talent and training facilities’.  By the time hierarchy and protocol is in line, the scenario might change.  Since the burden of finding afloat training billets has now been dumped on METIs, to yield quicker results, it will be ideal for them to team up and market the availability of talent and training facilities to ship owners around the world.

– By Jobships.com

Categories: Blogs

12 replies »

  1. please recomend to authorities in power to allow old engineers (who have not sailed in last five years) liberally to update their coc and come back to sea as many are willing. After all old is gold and will help in combating shortage to an extent.

  2. GIVE THE ENGINEERS THEIR DUE AND YOU WILL FIND MORE PEOPLE STICKING TO SEA LIFE AS MARINE ENGINEERS. IT IS A JOB THAT IS PHYSICALLY EXACTING WHILE REQUIRING GOOD ENGINEERING APTITUDE.THE PRESENT EQUATION IS SKEWED IN FAVOUR OF THE NAVIGATION SIDE AND THUS THE EXODUS.

  3. more courses or additional courses to solve onboard problems like healthy relationships are needed for a peaceful tenure.MOst of it due to poor training by institutes who charge hefty sum and does not teach anything. Dg shipping must frequently visit institutes to cross check students aptitude.

  4. More detailed info is required to be given as people from rural area do not have much idea regarding shipping.

  5. Firstly, a change of mindset for seafarers especially indian officers is desired. Lot of Inter dept disparity leads to dis-satisfaction and conflict on board. Working on board is not just about skill and aptitude but also inter-personnel relationship and teamwork. So lets work toward a common goal.

  6. IF WE REMEMBER, FEW YEARS BACK A CNADIDATE CONSISTANTLY FAILING IN INDIA WOULD GO TO UK, AUSTRALIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES TO GET COC. BUT NOW, IT APPEARES THAT IT IS MUCH EASIER IN INDIA THAN ANY OTHER PLACES. IS IT TO MEET THE TERRIFIC SHORT FALL ? BY INDIAN STYLE.

  7. its simple because we think it is better to so exams in india and do it is cheap way as compared to the other countries. in india exams are very tough, hav to do real hard work to clear it

  8. All that is required to sail on a ship should be a coc, passport and cdc. if a certified deck officer or engineer has to do these so called stcw courses, there is something wrong with the IMO.

  9. A clandestine system and an apparent recession were reasons why I was not able to join on board for a sea time birth after completing my TME from a METI in 1999 as a 5E. My colleagues who were with me and less financially stressed are way thru their CE exams. Is it worth to leave shore job and opt

  10. MMD SHOULD KEEP THIER STANDARDs AS UP AS BEFORE TO HAVE AN UPPER HAND OVER OTHER NATIONALS WHICH WILL MAKE US TO RULE THIS INDUSTRY FOREVER.

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