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'Traditional engineers are no longer relevant' - Caribbean Maritime Institute head

Published:Monday | September 21, 2015 | 3:56 PMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Pointing to a demand for more than 40,000 seafarers yearly, Dr Fritz Pinnock, executive director at the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), is urging that emphasis be placed on transferable skill sets in schools, instead of having students specialise.

"That's the requirement on a yearly basis and these officers are earning US$3,000 a month. These opportunities are out there, particularly in the shipping industry, but we have to change the traditional way of doing things," he told The Gleaner following the launch of Maritime Awareness Exhibition, held on the school grounds yesterday.

Noting that the institution is looking to launch a degree in mechatronics, the executive director said there has to be a renewed way of viewing educational opportunities.

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that includes a combination of systems engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, telecommunications engineering, control engineering and computer engineering.

"The traditional engineers are no longer relevant and we continue to evolve. The three things that should be critical at institutions are teaching students the value of a good attitude, a foreign language and inculcating critical thinking skills. Because with the rapid changes taking place, you can't be confined to any one area anymore. Those skills are transferable, no matter what area you end up," he said.

"Right now, 60 per cent of the best careers in the next 10 years are yet to be invented, and so we have to desist from seeing the Jamaican landscape separate from the world. We need to align our programmes to international standards," Pinnock said.

He added, "Parents, too, are to be blamed because everybody wants their daughter to become a lawyer, but we have seen that the traditional way of doing things are still producing gaps."

Dr Morais Guy, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, echoed similar sentiments, indicating that innovative thinking will be the path to vast job opportunities that are available.

"Institutions such as CMI are needed, as they provide a niche in education opportunities for youths in this country. Through increased education and training, the sector here in Jamaica will not only be able to adopt new and emerging technology but to create technology locally," the minister told the gathering.

"If we are to in any way match up to the rest of the world, we have to create something that is innovative, and the ministry is, therefore, resolute in giving the necessary support, as the career opportunities are endless," he declared.