June 02, 2020

Conference Feedback: Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence

In line with SAIMI’s Strategic Objective 4 that stipulates its role as a catalytic, influential and leading maritime institute, a conference themed Forward Thinking for Maritime Education and Training Excellence was successfully hosted in Durban from 13 – 15 October 2019.

The conference theme was directed at exploring the question "Does the maritime skills supply match the demand by industry and offer entrepreneurial opportunities?" This question was addressed through critical stakeholder engagement to enable a collaborative framework of industry, academia and government to address the mismatch of skills development and demand.

The conference was well received by the close to 270 attendees and delegates reiterated that, the changes in the economic landscape and the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution required stakeholders to think ahead. The conference focused on exploring solutions to the mismatch between skills supply and demand in the maritime sector, paying particular attention to the existing educational framework, the role of industry and global perspectives on the future of the maritime sector. The intended outcome was targeted at establishing an achievable plan of action developed through the active participation of delegates, to be driven by SAIMI in partnership with the relevant role players, in particular the maritime industry.

The following five key questions were addressed through the conference:

1. Is there a need for maritime labour market intelligence and a skills’ forecasting model?

2. If the skills produced by education and training institutions do not match industry demand, how do we change that? What are the best and most effective mechanisms to ensure that industry has sufficient influence on the skills produced by education and training institutions?

3. What is the most effective way for the TVET sector to contribute to maritime skills development?

4. How do you address challenges in the current Dual System of training for artisans and seafarers, combining learning at educational institutions with work-integrated-learning in the workplace due to a lack of trust by employers in the TVET colleges and a lack of availability of work placements (or, in the case of seafarers, training berths aboard commercial vessels).

5. What is the impact of the 4IR on the demand for skills in the maritime industry?

The broad array of speakers who presented during the conference are forward thinkers and leaders in their various sectors, representative of government, academia and industry, and cited critical insights on the future of maritime in the country.

Highlights from the speakers’ presentations:

“We needed a way to achieve this vision and chose the Big Fast Results (BFR) methodology developed by Malaysia to help move their own economy forward. Working with industry stakeholders, Operation Phakisa aimed to re-imagine the picture of the Oceans Economy and brought about a shift in commitment and delivery.”

– Mpumzi Bonga, Head of Operational Phakisa: Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.

“Our intention with this conference, in taking this critical work forward, is to emerge here with a clearer strategy, and a better understanding of how we will work together to redirect the skills development initiatives in the sector for better outcomes and better impact”

- Professor Sibongile Muthwa, Chair of SAIMI’s Advisory Board.

Prasheen Maharaj, the Chief Executive Officer of the Southern African Shipyards, was firm and assertive in emphasising that skills development practitioners need to engage industry when forecasting skills’ demand and to ask the right questions. He also said that skills initiatives tend to be Western Cape-dominant and often the allocation of stipends do not cover regional representation for learners from other provinces.

Conference Outcomes

The Oceans Economy is seen as the new frontier for economic growth globally and for the African continent. South Africa through Operation Phakisa aims to unlock the economic potential of the oceans and coastline – estimated at enabling the creation of one million jobs and contributing up to R177-billion to GDP by 2033. However, based on the outcomes of the conference there are four critical highlights and action points for SAIMI and stakeholders to consider:

• Developing mechanisms on closing the skills gap in the maritime sector and producing the right types of skills to address the market demands. More attention is required in the development of specialised education and training programmes, as well as facilities that are informed by the needs of industry as a key role player.

• The delegates’ and speakers’ discussions suggested that South Africa should use a skills forecasting model, but that more work needs to be done on the relevant models and implementation plans to ensure plausible forecasting recommendations.

• There is a need to maximise the capacitation of TVET colleges to train marine and maritime related qualifications in order to determine the most effective way to ensure the TVET sector can contribute to maritime skills development. This includes facilitation to building the capacity of trainers and developing industry relevant programmes.

Conference Output

SAIMI has compiled a comprehensive report detailing the discussions, with clear recommendations on the mechanisms and actions to be taken to address industry concerns on the nature and structure of skills development in the sector in order to strengthen maritime education and training.

In addition, SAIMI is collaborating with JUTA to produce a peer reviewed publication from the conference proceedings. This is in line with SAIMI’s Strategic Objective 3, using conferences as a form of research and knowledge management system.

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Issued by SAIMI


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