Training for shipping industry
Barbados is building capacity to take advantage of the international shortage of officers needed to work aboard ships, says Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) executive director Fritz Pinnock.
Pinnock told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that “given the rising status of the Barbados economy, there is a new turn where there are job opportunities to become officers on internationally trading ships”, noting that CMI graduates?were currently working as captains earning in excess of US$45 000 monthly aboard luxury yachts.
“The shipping industry, going back in time, was for dropouts, not for professionals, and Barbados was one of the leading seafaring nations, with people working on internationally trading ships at the lowest levels – as ordinary deck hands and cleaning the brass.”
Pinnock said, however, “The vision of the Barbados Ministry of International Transport is to actually train a pool of Barbadian nationals to man these internationally trading ships at the highest level, where there is currently an international shortage.
“You have a crisis at the port where most of the tug masters and pilots are almost at the age of retirement, so you need capacity-building right now.”
He said that Government was collaborating with the Caribbean Maritime Institute in a programme to train a pool of seafarers who could fill these positions as well as take up positions aboard ships worldwide.
The “holistic programme” was drawn up by Barbados Port Inc. about six months ago to train a cadre of people, and Pinnock said six people had been selected from a group of 13 to be the first to join the Officer Training Programme through the Ministry of International Transport.
The remaining seven will complete an apprenticeship programme in Barbados to become second officers aboard tugs. Pinnock said there was an opportunity for top performers among this group to later enrol in the Officer Programme at the CMI to become captains and chief engineers.
The CMI head said the tuition cost was about US$6 500 for the first year compared to over US$2 000 for the same training in Britain. Graduates receive an internationally accredited certificate and licence recognized throughout the European Union and around the world.
In addition, Pinnock revealed that CMI?had been doing continuous training for the Bridgetown Port in association with the Barbados Shipping Association, which he commended for its foresight.
According to statistics from the International Maritime Organization, there will be a shortage of over 75 000 officers aboard internationally trading ships over the next three years.
Pinnock said this created an opportunity for Caribbean nationals.
“We have an excess number of young people. Our economies cannot absorb this large number of people.
“These are non-traditional jobs that we are recommending to young people . . . we are saying we have enough lawyers, enough doctors, let us look at the non-traditional careers that are high-paying.”
Countries like the Philipines have used it as a strategy for capacity-building. Remittances and income from its seafarers alone contribute 15 per cent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.
“Why can’t that be done from Barbados, when you have such a good image in the Caribbean, far better than Jamaica’s?” Pinnock asked.