Expo starts new wave of maritime jobs

Written by Samona Murugan
Young people looking to start out in life have been encouraged to set out to sea for exciting career opportunities. This was the message at the Careers’ Expo and Jobs Summit hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Department of Labour and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban recently.

The youngsters were told that there were many jobs at sea including careers in navigation, crew management, cargo stowing, engineering, communications and hotel crew.

Jobs on luxury cruise ships or ferries not only provide exciting career paths for young people and a way to support themselves, but also provides them with opportunities to see the world.

Untapped opportunities

The Job Summit was also aimed at reviving the country’s maritime industry and creating 160 000 jobs within the next 20 years. Careers at sea remain largely unknown, said SAMSA CEO Commander Tsietsi Mokhele.

“Up to 98 per cent of trade between South Af- rica and its partner countries is seaborne, yet maritime career opportunities remain largely untapped due to lack of awareness amongst South Africans,” Mokhele added.

In support of its core message that young people “can choose a career less ordinary in the maritime industry,” the event helped inform learners, school leavers, job seekers and educators of opportunities and provided a platform for employers and job seekers to connect.

The event was expected to make a significant contribution to driving skills development and employment in the maritime sector for the youth of South Africa.

SAMSA developed the Maritime Skills Development Programme because of its skills study. To further encourage learners and job seekers to pursue a career within the maritime sector, the SA Agulhas sailed into Durban harbour to fly her colours for the more than 10 000 visitors at the expo.

Inspired and motivated

With informative displays, skills and information sessions, workshops, competitions, water sports activities and even a seafood pavilion, young people left inspired and motivated to join the maritime industry.

“I am extremely pleased that this initiative seeks to make sector skills training and development a national priority, especially in the marine sector, as one of South Africa’s critical economic sectors that has forever experienced a dire skills shortage, yet with an enormous job creation prospect, nation- ally and internationally,” Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande said.

He added that although the country had seen some recovery in job creation during 2011, employment had not yet returned to the level it was at and the unemployment rate remains high at over 24 per cent.

“The funds invested in job creation by the country and the predictions of employing 332 000 people as a result thereof is a positive sign that South Africa is moving towards its goal of creating five million jobs by 2020,” he added.

Memorandum of agreement

Minister Nzimande stressed that more rapid job creation was needed and businesses needed to look at the incentives which government offered, which would assist companies in creating employment opportunities while simultaneously benefiting the company.SAMSA also entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Higher Education and Training to implement skills development programmes in the maritime sector with support from the National Skills Fund. This initiative will benefit 647 unemployed youth and graduates over a three-year period to the value of R93.6 million.

Among others, the project will focus on cadetship and marine engineering. This project will increase the output of seafarers including unemployed graduates to maritime professions, achieving over 45 000 jobs within the maritime sector over the next eight years.