Thinking ahead: Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence
WORKING towards a solution by addressing the maritime sector’s skills mismatch between supply and demand was the focus of the Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence Conference hosted by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in Durban from 13 – 15 October 2019.
PARTNERS IN GROWING THE BLUE ECONOMY
In his Welcome Address SAIMI CEO Odwa Mtati said studies have proven the exponential potential for job creation which is sited in the blue economy.
“If we focus our skills training and entrepreneurial development correctly, we can position South Africa as Africa’s leading maritime nation, with massive job opportunities and growth prospects for the local economy,” said Mtati.
The oceans economy is seen as the new frontier for economic growth globally and for the African continent. In South Africa, Operation Phakisa aims to unlock the economic potential of our oceans and coastline – estimated at enabling the creation of one million jobs by 2033. “In order to activate this potential, we need the skills to match the demand that would support the growth of the sector. Notwithstanding inroads that had been made at post-school education and training institutions in recent years, SAIMI’s 2018 Oceans Economy Skills Development Assessment for South Africa highlighted a potential mismatch between current skills being produced and actual industry needs.
The study suggests that while the supply of skills was adequate in number, there was a disconnect between the types of skills being produced and those required by industry hence the need for greater industry participation in shaping the outcomes of the skills production system,” said Mtati.
A MULTI-STAKEHOLDER APPROACH
The Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence conference offered a collaborative platform for stakeholders in industry, academia and government to review current maritime skills supply capacity against future demand, and to consider collaborative and collective ways to address deficits in the current system and find solutions to close the gaps.
PARTNERING FOR CHANGE: Pictured on the first day of the Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence Conference hosted by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in Durban were from left Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: Head of Operation Phakisa Mpumzi Bonga, SAIMI Chair of the Advisory Board Prof Sibongile Muthwa, eThekwini Municipality Acting Mayor Councillor Mpume Sithole, and SAIMI Acting CEO Odwa Mtati.
The conference was hosted in partnership with AMSOL, the John Langalibalele Dube Institute, the eThekwini Maritime Cluster, eThekwini Municipality, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Moses Kotane Institute.
JOBS IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT DAY 1 OF CONFERENCE
South Africa needs to speed up the job creation potential of the Oceans Economy to reach the targets set out by Operation Phakisa in 2014. The urgency of growing jobs through suitable skills development and entrepreneurial opportunities topped the agenda on the first day of the Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence conference.
SETTING THE SCENE – COLLABORATION IS KEY
SAIMI Advisory Board Chair Prof Sibongile Muthwa said in her welcome and opening remarks that the intention of the conference was to advance maritime skills development in South Africa by seeking input from delegates on their challenges in training sufficient artisans, identifying blockages and building maritime skills capacity. She also emphasised the importance of collaborative models inclusive of government role players.
Muthwa introduced the Oceans Economy Skills Development Assessment for South Africa study, which was conducted by SAIMI to determine the capacity of education and training institutions to deliver the forecasted skills needed to support maritime economic growth. “A key finding of that study was that our post-school education institutions are producing graduates with maritime-related qualifications in sufficient numbers, however, the types of skills being produced are not in alignment with market needs. This requires not just a shift in the types of qualifications being offered or the content of curricula, but also shifts at policy and regulatory level to ensure that institutions have the capacity in terms of people, facilities and equipment to deliver the needed skills," said Muthwa.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS – ‘PHAKISA’: WE NEED TO HURRY UP
Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: Head of Operation Phakisa Mpumzi Bonga said while in the past five years the maritime economy significantly raised its contribution to GDP to R41.1-billion in investments, just less than 10 000 jobs were created. In line with the 2033 targets set by Operation Phakisa, jobs growth by now should have been 77 000 and the contribution to GDP should have been R32-billion.
“We have surpassed the GDP contribution target, but we have not created the desired number of direct jobs – even taking indirect jobs into account, we have not met our target. We need to sober up as we plan for the skills development we need to grow the oceans economy,” said Bonga. He encouraged role-players in all six of the key sectors of Operation Phakisa to change their attitude to “business unusual” to grow the oceans economy in a speedy manner. This can be achieved through collaboration with the private sector to plan together as a nation, and investing in critical human capital for greater growth and success, he said.
“We do not have the luxury of time since our biggest shareholder, South Africans, are becoming impatient. There is no room for mistakes as South Africans need skills to change their material conditions,” said Bonga.
Click here for a SOUND CLIP of Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: Head of Operation Phakisa Mpumzi Bonga explaining the job targets of Operation Phakisa.
MARITIME SKILLS SUPPLY AND DEMAND – BRIDGING THE GAP
Economist Derek Zimmerman gave feedback on key findings of Oceans Economy Skills Development Assessment for South Africa Study on behalf of SAIMI. He said there was a nett gap of 3 786 graduates needed per year despite an oversupply in certain sectors.
“Areas that are more operational at the moment have a surplus of skilled people. The supply that is being generated in that sector, in fact, is too many for the demand. And then there is an undersupply on the more technical skills side including the trade and professional categories. So, this is the mismatch and we need to get that balance right,” said Zimmerman.
SAIMI Senior Manager for Operation Phakisa Skills Initiatives, Nwabisa Matoti, highlighted some of the progress made with interventions spearheaded by SAIMI in the focus areas of aquaculture, maritime transport, manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, coastal and marine tourism, small harbour development and marine protection and ocean governance.
Working groups, representative of relevant roleplayers in the focus areas, are in various stages of conducting and finalising skills audits to determine the skills requirements needed over the next 5 to 20 years, as well as current supply and demands for growing the blue economy, said Matoti.
FINDING A WAY FORWARD ON DAY 2
Exploring ways to achieve Maritime Excellence in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) was at the heart of discussions on the second day of the Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence conference. Other topics discussed during the second and final day of the conference included the South African Qualifications Framework – moving beyond the barriers to tertiary skills development and education by making courses more accessible and responsive to market needs, as well as finding a new employment mandate for maritime skills development.
FORWARD THINKING FOR MARITIME EXCELLENCE – INTO THE FUTURE
World Maritime University Associate Professor Momoko Kitada, an expert on the impact of automation on future labour trends, said many industries – including the maritime industry – are concerned with whether automation will lead to massive unemployment and what interventions were needed to prepare for the 4IR.
With Norway planning to send the first autonomous ship to sea in 2020 – an electric and self-propelled container ship – Kitada said the maritime industry will certainly be impacted by 4IR trends. These include automation in maintenance, using drones for ship repairs at sea, humanoid robots working on cruise ships and various new services to increase efficiencies in maritime businesses.
“Technology will reduce staff per unit, but the trend in the expansion of international trade will counterbalance this. People are still needed. We predict that world trade will increase and therefore our conclusion is that seafarers need to adapt their skills, but they will still be in demand. These jobs will become more digitalised, and our education and training skills development will need to adapt accordingly,” said Kitada.
She said improved digital skills in the maritime industry could lead to the unlocking of new nautical routes and highways to replace and complement transport modes.
However, South Africa needed to invest in human capital and skills development to prepare for this reality. “The developing world is lagging behind regarding technological advancement and innovations. Skills sets have to be ready to handle new technologies – despite the adoption rate projected to be slower for automation in the maritime sector, compared to other sectors,” said Kitada.
Kitada stressed that the informal economy should be included in future plans for the maritime industry in South Africa, and that local solutions should be designed by local experts to create employment through inclusive academia-government-industrial decision-making.
Click here for a SOUND CLIP of World Maritime University Associate Professor Momoko Kitada discussing the future job trends predicted for the Maritime Sector.
DAMEN Shipyards Director Sefale Montsi said South African skills training for the future should be focussed on training people “for life, not for a job”.
“In the world of skills development 4IR we should not be focussed on jobs, but on the whole person - to be flexible, to be focussed and adaptable to future trends. That way we can be effective as a country to create opportunities for South Africans - to not just be employed, but to innovate and to create new projects for industry,” said Montsi.
READY FOR CHANGE: Pictured during the final day of the Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence were from left SAIMI Operations Director Soraya Artman, World Maritime University Associate Professor Momoko Kitada, and SAIMI Senior Manager for Operation Phakisa Skills Initiatives, Nwabisa Matoti.
The main outcome of the conference was to work towards a targeted and achievable plan of action, involving all stakeholders. This output will take the form of a report, which is currently being compiled, with recommendations flowing from the conference on the mechanisms and actions to be taken to bridge the skills gap into the future.
Once the report has been finalised, it will be shared with all delegates who attended the conference as well as those who were unable to attend but showed an interest in the conference topic. Feedback and comments on the report will be encouraged – to refine the skills map designed for optimal future growth of the oceans economy in South Africa.
WHAT THE MEDIA HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
I Love Durban
Maritime Review Africa
Africa Ports & Ships Maritime News
Global Africa Network
Global Africa Network
Freight & Trading Weekly
Eastern Cape Industrial News
PRESS RELEASE - DAY 1
Forward Thinking Conference concerned with growing maritime jobs
PRESS RELEASE - DAY 2
Forward Thinking Conference focusses on 4IR maritime skills