The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as part of its mandate by the Government developed a maritime strategy to grow and develop the country’s maritime economy. One of the key challenges arising out of this strategy was the current shortage of both sea and shore based human resources required to support the industry. This has been exacerbated by the reduction in South African based shipping companies, an issue which they also intend to address by the introduction of a new tonnage tax regime and related industry incentives. SAMSA recognized that the shortage of training berths for cadets is the key obstacle to addressing the above mentioned shortage. In response to this, government, through SAMSA, has therefore decided to fully sponsor cadet training programmes on the basis that third party shipping companies will make training berths available, at no real cost to them, to train these cadets on their vessels and once qualified to be free to employ these cadets in their own fleets. This will serve to address the high unemployment situation in the country and increase human capital in the industry.
SAMSA has in turn contracted South African Maritime you Academy, a non-profit company that specializes in simulator based training and the management of cadet training programmes, to manage all cadets participating in their project. The intention is to recruit youth from Nautical Colleges who have completed their first year of theoretical studies (for Officer of the Watch level) to induct them with pre sea safety courses prior to them joining the vessels of the companies that are participating in the project in order to obtain their required sea time.
These cadets will either follow a SAMSA accredited accelerated training cadetship utilizing the SAMSA onboard training record book or the accelerated training programmes for specific companies that will have to be accredited with SAMSA. Either route shall result in a South African qualification as Officer of the Watch in full compliance with STCW requirements. Once qualified these cadets are free to join a shipping company of their choice. It is likely that these will seek employment with the companies in which they served their sea time
What’s in it for Ship Owners/Managers?
Shipping companies/managers who participate in the project will not be expected to bear any costs of training the cadets other than the cost of victuals and onboard incidentals. The benefit to participating companies is that they train cadets to their standards and subsequently employ the cadets once qualified, without real cost to them.
Why South Africans?
Added benefits to European ship-owners of employing SA Cadets and officers are:
- South Africa is on the IMO White list and Qualifications are fully STCW compliant
- South Africa Certificates of Competency are recognized by UK, Australian, Danish, Belgium & other respectable maritime authorities
- English language is generally spoken – higher education and nautical colleges conduct education in English
- Work ethic – South Africans are generally regarded as having a good work ethic with a culture of “making a plan” when required and a sense of responsibility. Companies that currently employ SA officers include – Maersk, Safmarine, Smit, Swire, BP, Stolt, Posh SEMCO, Stena, Tidewater, Sanko, and with respect to hotel staff - various cruise ship companies
- A convenient time zone alignment with Europe – GMT +2 that enables easier communications
Furthermore, the extent to which South Africa can provide a suitable recruitment source is supported by the following:
Nautical Training institutions are compliant with IMO requirements as evidenced by a European Maritime safety Authority audit, conducted in 2010, of the country’s compliance with IMO requirements which resulted in few findings/observations on training institutions.
- All accredited training institutions are audited by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in terms of training facilities and courses offered. These are renewed in 3 yearly cycles
- South African training institutions are well respected throughout Africa and provide training to many countries on the continent that are not STCW white-listed.
- The country’s Merchant Shipping Act is based on and closely aligns with the UK MSA.
- Infrastructure is well established and of a generally high standard. (Travel, IT and Communications are to world standard).
- The country is suffering from high unemployment and its youth represents a potentially large human resource pool that could be developed with a good long term prognosis. Currently, approximately half of the South African population is under 25 years of age.
- Limited but constructive union involvement in the maritime industry.
Other Important Factors for Ship Owners to Consider
- Reputable ship owners/managers who participate in the project will be contributing to growing the global maritime skills pool where a significant shortage currently exists.
- South Africa is generally seen as the entry point into Africa and participation in the project will assist ship-owners/managers in gaining a foothold in this growing, and increasingly important market
- The cadet training project has been supported for several decades by Safmarine, now a member of the world’s largest container ship company, AP Moller-Maersk.
- The International Maritime Employers Committee has expressed interest in participating in the project. To date the following companies are involved: Safmarine, Smit, Columbia Ship Management, OACL & Unicorn.
What Does the Project Entail?
The project details include:
- SAMTRA – a non-profit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa - has been contracted by the South African government/SAMSA to manage project of training cadets from recruitment though to preparation for final exams as Officer of the Watch.
- SAMTRA has been in operation for eight years and has successfully managed cadet training programs for Safmarine, The National Port Authority & Stena.
- Training costs are being funded by the SA government through their agency SAMSA. This includes all costs normally associated with training a cadet (including cadet allowances, working gear, all travel, documentation, all required courses etc.). However, onboard victuals and other incidentals are to be borne by the participating companies.
- Participating shipping companies are expected to provide training berths, to mentor and monitor onboard training using either the participating company’s own training record book (which will be submitted to SAMSA for accreditation) or the SAMSA training record book which is based on the ISF record book.
- The first intake of cadets (who have completed their first year of theory studies) will commence with their pre-sea safety courses and induction in April. They will then be appointed to the above mentioned companies with further intakes joining the programs over the coming months.
Who to contact for more information: Contact the SAMTRA training Manager—Pieter Coetzee on the following email address : firstname.lastname@example.org