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Education on board

Date: 30/05/2018

The richness of the maritime educational sector is due to the diverse, specialised providers in the maritime industry.

The Malta Maritime Forum (MMF) was formed in November 2016. From the onset, four working groups were formed, of which the Education Group started operating from the very first day.

Under the able guidance of MMF chairman Joe Borg, the education agenda was given an important platform. We immediately formulated the business plan and are now moving steadily towards the goals we set out.

From the outset it was never our intention to replicate what was already in place. We were quite pleased that the various maritime educational providers in Malta already offered quite an array of maritime courses. Indeed our intention was to cooperate with such institutions, promote their maritime courses and support them by providing the working professional expertise of the MMF members.

As a consequence, the MMF initiated a series of MOU’s with various educational providers, including the Ministry of Education, Mcast and the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in the UK.

Such collaborations help the MMF to promote careers in the maritime industry and work closely with these entities by assisting in the promotion of their courses and helping to attract candidates to the maritime sector.

The MMF has established close cooperation with Maritime MT (former MMRTC) in organising its own courses.

The first course provided was the marine induction course, which is recognised by Transport Malta. This unique course provides personnel within the maritime industry with the basic fundamentals required when boarding sea craft and for their health and safety while working in a port or terminal environment. We hope to continue this course in the years to come.

We have established a foundation course with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. This is a specialised course mostly intended for ship agency staff but it is also interesting for other workers in the maritime industry.

The most important collaboration of the MMF in the maritime education sector was achieved with Mcast and the University of Glasgow through the organ-isation of Pro Crew, which provides EU-sponsored courses in the super yacht Industry. While varied, the courses are intended for masters, officers of the watch and marine engineers.

The richness of the maritime educational sector is due to the diverse, specialised providers in the maritime industry, ranging from port operators to fisheries, and from oil and gas to logistics.

Indeed the maritime industry is estimated to provide work for some 20,000 employees and contributes to Malta’s national economy by around 14 per cent of our GDP.

Our biggest challenge today is finding personnel interested in taking up a career in the maritime industry. Our industry is still very much a 24/7 environment. This fact, coupled with Malta’s unemployment rate of nearly zero, makes it very hard to find a steady flow of experienced and qualified personnel locally.

The maritime industry is estimated to provide work for some 20,000 employees

The employment of foreign personnel is now becoming the norm. This puts more emphasis on the educational sector, especially that connected with the maritime world.

Furthermore, while the fundamentals may be the same for Malta, like all other countries it has its own national characteristics and regulations, which not only the locals need to understand and apply but definitely those foreign workers embarking on a local career.

The MMF is also doing its bit to attract people to our industry. The MMF is assisting Transport Malta in its drive to run sessions in the Science Teen Café initiative, together with the Education Department. This requires professionals explaining various career opportunities in the maritime industry to secondary school students, who are still in their formative years. I think this is a good initiative, and Transport Malta should be commended for such an initiative.

Another initiative by the MMF is that of assisting in the placement of students to gain workplace experience.

The MMF has a rich and varied membership, and with the help of our members we try to assist the University of Malta and Mcast to place their students within a working environment in placements established by these entities.

The demand from the maritime industry for qualified personnel is very strong, especially in the light of the fact that Malta has become a service centre of excellence within the maritime industry. Our local companies are dealing with foreign ones on a daily basis, and the demand for good service is paramount.

Competition for business coming from Italy and Greece is also fierce. It is therefore important that our Maritime business offers an array of services run by professional and qualified personnel.

There are various challenges ahead of us, but it is much better to solve any problems while you are in a growth mode rather than its opposite. From a maritime education perspective, the MMF is always looking at ways of introducing courses which are not yet available in Malta.

A case in point was the organisation of a CSC awareness course in cooperation with the Container Traders and Innovators Association (CTIA) of the UK. Based on the relevant IMO regulations, this course concerns the safe handling and carriage of containers. It is a type of course which the MMF is interested in due to the different interests it addresses within the maritime industry. It is suited to many different categories of personnel in the business.

The MMF will continue to strive in this direction in the coming years as it grows in stature and continues to gain more and more credibility in the local sphere.

Michael Callus is a board member of the Malta Maritime Forum and chairman of the education working group. He is a director at Medsea Shipping Agency.

The opinion expressed by the author does not necessarily reflect the position of the MMF (www.mmf.org.mt).

By Michael Callus

Source: Times of Malta

 
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