Port Elizabeth: 02 June 2018
The launch in Port Elizabeth of a new national ratings practical training for aspirant seafarers is among new and ongoing initiatives to expand the skills base in the country’s maritime sector, thereby giving more youth opportunities, according to the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Launch of the practical aspect of the ratings training took place at the port of Port Elizabeth on Thursday when the first group of 20 youths – 11 males and nine females – boarded the SA Agulhas to join in on its two weeks ocean sojourn on the Indian Ocean on a scientific research mission.
The SA Agulhas, the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel under the command of SAMSA, will be sailing some 300 km into sea along the eastern coast of South Africa, from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, on a charter to the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF).
The scientific research mission will involve retrieval of data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in the coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change.
It is the first of two missions in 2018 for the SA Agulhas and for which it was recently dry-docked for fine tuning as well as refurbishing at the port of East London.
The scientific research missions for which the vessel is chartered offer an excellent opportunity also for the country’s growing cadre of young cadets undergoing training to become qualified seafarers.
This time around, focus by SAIMI along with its partners including training services providers, has been turned on practical training for ratings – a new category of skills development for aspirant seafarers that is being piloted and aimed at growing the pool of employable South African seafarers.
The ratings training is funded by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA). According to SAIMI, the 20 youths that boarded the SA Agulhas on Thursday are part of a group of 45 candidates in the pilot project.
In a joint media statement, SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said getting a project of this nature off the ground was the result of strong partnerships and collaboration, involving both public and private sector role-players and training providers.
“Special mention should be made of TETA as the funder and SAMSA as the owner of the vessel for providing this valuable opportunity for the trainees to gain sea-time,” he said.
Malcolm Alexander, TETA’s maritime education training and development practitioner, said: “We are pleased to see this pilot training project taking shape with the trainees being able to gain practical experience at sea aboard the SA Agulhas.
“The project expands TETA’s involvement in maritime sector education and training at a practical skill level and is a positive for the maritime sector and oceans economy growth.
“It also grows the pool of South African seafarers available for local and global employment.”
According to SAIMI, the current group of trainees is being managed by the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and the Sea Safety Training Group.
Marine Crew Services is also a partner to the project, having agreed to place trainees in their managed fleets for further training.
The next phase of the project, according to SAIMI, will entail building the capacity of TVET (Technical Vocational Education & Training) Colleges to offer the training.
Weighing on the project, SAMSA Chief Operating Officer, Sobantu Tilayi described the initiative as forward looking.
“As part of our commitment to address the high unemployment rate, this rating training provides a wider scope of maritime training and skills development.
“It addresses the gap for career opportunities. Young people would be able to find jobs in areas such as maintenance of the vessels, its equipment and gear, in rigging and deploying equipment, and handling and securing cargo.” he said.
Mr Tilayi said the SA Agulhas which SAMSA owns and manages, was particularly well suited for its training role, and its recent refurbishments at the dry dock, was testimony of its strength and calibre.
By supporting the hands-on aspects of maritime training, the project partners are contributing to skills development as outlined in the South African government’s Operation Phakisa plan to fast-track the growth and development of the oceans economy, he said.