Opportunities at sea - Maritime Authority honours seafarers
History is replete with stories of piracy at sea, great sea expeditions to chart the new world or voyages to support the trade that the world needs. These voyages have shaped civilisation since humans learned how to craft a watertight vessel that could transport them across the seas, and will continue to do so as technology improves the safety and efficiency of shipping.
According to the International Maritime Organisation, ships transport almost 90 per cent of the world's goods. However, it is the seafarers, that is, the men and women who are responsible for the operation of ships and the management of the cargoes, who must ensure the success of sea trade, under onerous and even dangerous circumstances.
Being a mariner demands long hours spent in close quarters, and heavy labour in a high-pressure environment with little room for error, not to mention homesickness. But those who opt to pursue this special career path know that, although it isn't all calm seas and smooth sailing, sea-based careers also offer great pay, benefits, and job mobility. They allow persons to accumulate specialised knowledge and skills and test their mettle as they embark on travel adventures spanning the globe.
As such, the life of a seafarer continues to hold a special attraction for young persons who desire a chance to pursue a career in a high-demand area offering employment that literally transcends geographical boundaries.
This gives credence to the theme for this year's celebration of the Day of the Seafarer on June 25, when Jamaica joined the rest of the world in marking the fifth anniversary of this international campaign to raise awareness about seafarers and the seafaring career.
The theme, 'Opportunities to Work at Sea', shifted focus to maritime education and training, with the aim of inspiring the younger generation to consider a career at sea as a viable option.
According to Rear Admiral Peter Brady, director general of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, which provides
regulatory oversight for the delivery of high-quality, comprehensive nautical and marine engineering training at the Caribbean Maritime Institute, the focus on opportunities to work at sea is particularly fitting and timely.
"According to a study compiled by Drewry, a UK-based shipping consultancy, shipping will require an additional 42,500 officers by the end of 2019 to cope with the expected growth in the main cargo-carrying fleet. Competent seafarers are required to fill this gap, and I encourage young people to consider the seafaring option instead of the more popular traditional career choices," he said.
A seafaring career can be divided into three main categories: deck (nautical), engine (engineering), and hospitality. Each carries unique responsibilities in the day-to-day operation of the vessel, thus offering a wide scope for professional development at different ranks.
As an emerging maritime State, and as Jamaica gets in high gear to develop the country as a logistics hub, the skill and knowledge of this specialist group - seafarers - at every level, is essential.