Developing the skills needed to be a leading maritime nation
There is a renewed focus on education and training in the maritime sector in order to ensure that the marine economy makes a much greater contribution to South Africa.
“Current training efforts are fragmented and the three universities and two technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions are facing a number of challenges relating to recruiting competent and qualified lecturers, outdated equipment and financing training infrastructure,” education minister Blade Nzimande told delegates to the 2017 South African Maritime Industry Conference (SAMIC).
He said South Africa has 3 500 registered professional seafarers – out of an estimated 250 000 world-wide.
The challenges facing academic and training institutions, as well as a lack of co-ordination between tertiary institutions and the maritime sector is being addressed through the formation of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).
“SAIMI plays a bridging and facilitating role by connecting industry, education and training providers and government entities.
“It further identifies skills needs gaps in education provision, areas for further research, resource needs, as well as funding gaps in the sector to develop more responsive and comprehensive education and training that meets the needs of industry at all skills levels,” he said.
Mlibo Qoboshiyane, Eastern Cape MEC for rural development and agrarian reform told delegates that more opportunities were being created in the province for maritime-related education.
“The province has adopted a Provincial Maritime Skills Plan focused at Maritime education and training at basic and post schooling levels; skills development for employment and self-employment; as well as labour market intervention”.
Two more maritime high schools would be established in 2018 – bringing the total to four.
Apprentices have also been placed with local boat builders.
In addition Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) has approved plans to develop maritime training centres in the ports of East London, Ngqura and Port Elizabeth.
“SAMSA is currently developing a specialized maritime curriculum for the TVET colleges whilst NMMU has established a marine engineering department,” he said.