June 15, 2020

Nurturing the skills needed for Operation Phakisa

Update from the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).

A common thread running through all Operation Phakisa initiatives is the need to develop the skills to operate the engine room, as well as to navigate the way forward. The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), is at the helm for skills development, capacity building and empowerment of people to support the goals of Operation Phakisa and growth of the maritime economy.

SAIMI works with educational institutions, government departments and the private sector across South Africa to facilitate collaboration and coordinate maritime education and training that responds to industry needs.

SAIMI has a three-year grant of R296-million from the National Skills Fund for the skills and capacity-building work to support Operation Phakisa. This has enabled significant progress to be made, for example, in the growth of the National Cadet Programme during 2016.

Developing future sea-farers

The cadet programme offers practical training and sea-time experience with international shipping lines, enabling maritime students to obtain internationally-recognised STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watch-keeping) qualifications and become globally sought-after seafarers. Eighty new cadets joined the programme in 2016, bringing the total in training to more than 200, while 33 have completed their deck or engineering officer certification in the past year.

SAIMI and the cadet programme training providers facilitate partnerships with international merchant shipping companies to provide training berths to South African cadets. This includes the newly South African-flagged cargo vessels, while the South African Navy has also weighed in to support training of future mariners and is working with SAIMI to confirm areas of cooperation.

Innovative approaches to seafarer training, which have the potential for replication if successful, are being followed with two international shipping companies – Klaveness Shipping recruits a small number of cadets into an intensive programme aimed at developing their own future officer corps from cadet to apprentice to fully-fledged officer, as opposed to simply providing training berths and signing cadets off after sea service; and SAIMI has overseen the modification of two MACS Shipping Line vessels to accommodate up to 10 cadets each, with an on-site training officer, in a model that enables a trading vessel to double-up as a training vessel.

The country’s Dedicated Training Vessel (DTV) SA Agulhas I has taken a break from training duty over the past year but is being brought back into service, and 15 cadets were placed aboard in September/October 2016 to gain practical experience in her dry-docking and maintenance.

SAIMI is also working with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to identify and access international maritime skills development opportunities, and to coordinate local programmes with international training opportunities.

Identifying future needs

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), initially commissioned by SAMSA, and supported by SAIMI and the Department of Science & Technology, has completed the Research, Innovation and Knowledge Management Roadmap for the maritime sector. The roadmap presents a vision, and sets objectives and action steps, for South Africa to be globally recognised as a maritime nation by 2030.

The roadmap provides direction for the research, innovation and technology development to support achievement of the Operation Phakisa growth objectives in the oceans economy, and will guide SAIMI’s knowledge management strategy. The next step is dissemination and implementation of the roadmap, and SAIMI is working with the CSIR and stakeholders to drive this.

SAIMI coordinates five Operation Phakisa Skills Working Groups tasked with addressing the targets and deliverables in the ‘three-feet’ plans for each of the Lab areas, towards developing a national maritime skills development strategy for the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Progress to date includes:

Aquaculture: A ‘three-feet’ skills plan for Aquaculture has been developed and a skills audit commissioned to determine the skills needs of the local aquaculture industry.

Marine Manufacturing: A project to develop an industry-education partnership model for skills development for the sector is far advanced, working closely with education and employer stakeholders. Work is in progress on developing the means to deliver to Operation Phakisa targets for artisan training in scarce and critical trades, as well as collaboration with other state agencies such as Transnet to share facilities and meet training targets.

Marine Protection & Governance: Occupations that are required to support the sector have been identified and categorised for inclusion on the national Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO) to enable linking of occupations to specific skills.

Marine Transport: Training in this sector is a complex issue relating to, amongst others, alignment of the South African academic qualification requirements with international (IMO/STCW) standards for sea-farers, as well as the resource and capacity constraints of higher education institutions to meet the Operation Phakisa targets for seafarer training. SAIMI is facilitating multi-stakeholder discussions and task teams aimed at overcoming these hurdles.

A distributed seafarer training model utilising government vessels to supplement training berths available from international shipping lines is being developed. SAIMI is actively driving the development of a coordinated national approach to maritime studies at secondary school level with the Department of Basic Education, as well as opportunities to raise awareness of maritime careers in general.

Offshore Oil & Gas Exploration: A skills strategy roadmap for the sector has been completed. Funding has been secured for a national Research Chair in Petroleum Geoscience & Engineering, and the establishment of a professional body for the industry has commenced. SAIMI and the DEA are collaborating on a proposal for SAIMI to fund Incident Management System training to support an integrated response to oil spills and natural disasters. SAIMI and SASOL have agreed to explore agrees of collaboration on the African continent.

SAIMI is also facilitating collaboration with the relevant sector education and training authorities (SETAs), ie in manufacturing and engineering, transport, agriculture, and energy and water, to support these initiatives.

Although not specifically included in Operation Phakisa, SAIMI is also working with the National Fishing Forum, and participating in initiatives by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Agriculture (DAFF) to identify and support skills development needs in the fisheries sector at both commercial and small-scale level.

Over the past year, SAIMI has also given input to the draft national maritime transport policy; and supported the International Ocean Institute’s Africa Ocean Governance short course for public officials as part of a broader maritime skills and capacity-building partnership with IOI.

On the international stage, SAIMI CEO Prof Malek Pourzanjani delivered a keynote address on Operation Phakisa and SAIMI at the Maritime Academic conference, MARACAD2016, in Dubai, and joined other international delegates in meeting Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Shipping and Maritime Affairs alongside the Tokyo International Cooperation on African Development (TICAD VI) event in Nairobi.

SAIMI coordinated and led a South African delegation from government, state-owned enterprises, education institutions and industry to the 2016 Seminar on Marine Manufacturing for South Africa hosted by the Fujian Institute of Oceanography (FJIO) in Xiamen, China. The seminar was designed to introduce the model for China’s ship-building industry, port construction and administration. Participants were also introduced to government officials and experts in these fields in order to explore future collaboration opportunities.

About the author

Issued by Issued by Siyathetha Communications on behalf of the South African International Maritime Institute.

SAIMI CEO: Odwa Mtati – 082 783 6810 Siyathetha: Ed Richardson: +27 41 582 3750 / 083 656 9757

More Articles

July 28, 2023

South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) hosted a successful Maritime Winter School Awareness Programme

South Africa has been at the center of a surge in interest in respect of sea-going careers. The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in line with its mandate and role as advocate and coordinator of skills development in the maritime sector has initiated a new pilot programme. This is an ongoing exploration at testing the waters in ensuring that the South African system is strengthened and therefore ready to be able to respond to these opportunities that are coming into the Country.