Nxarhuni Village, outside East London, is set to become home to the first maritime school in South Africa as part of the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) plan to improve the country’s maritime economy.
SAMSA has adopted Ngwenyathi High School and plans are afoot to launch it as a maritime high school. Yesterday SAMSA sent the first batch of 18 students drawn from all over the country for training out to sea as part of its cadet training programme. Ten of these students are from the Eastern Cape and they will undergo three months of training at sea.
A number of shipping companies are participating in the project by providing training berths for the seagoing element of experiential training and include Safmarine, OAC, Columbia Ship Management and Smit.
“The shortage of training berths for cadets is the main obstacle to addressing the skills shortage in the sector.
“As such, the training programmes will be completed on the understanding 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,” says SAMSA chief executive Tsietsi Mokhele.
SAMSA has allocated a budget of just under R3 million a year towards the training programme and it plans to create 1 800 jobs in the maritime sector in the next year. Training will be conducted by the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA). By 2013, SAMSA plans to have placed 430 students through the programme and 45 000 by 2020.
Mokhele says SAMSA has adopted a strategy to improve South Africa’s maritime economy, but a major drawback has been the lack of skills in the sector in both sea and shore-based human resources.
“The lack of proper skills in the sector has led to the drop in active shipping companies in South Africa and our strategy has the potential to double or triple job creation in the sector. The cadet programme is the backbone of the SAMSA strategy to develop the necessary skills in the sector.
“The Eastern Cape has emerged as the feeding ground for maritime training and we have been able to attract the most interest from the province. The adoption of Ngwenyathi High School is also part of a plan to introduce maritime studies at high school level,” explains Mokhele.
He says eventually the country will boast a maritime university. Currently SAMSA is subsidising the payment of lecturers at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Durban University of Technology (DUT) to teach maritime courses.
Under the programme youth will be recruited from South African Nautical Colleges who have completed their first year of theoretical studies (for Officer of the Watch level) and to induct them with the required pre-sea safety courses prior to them joining the participating companies’ vessels in order to obtain their required sea time as Deck or Engineer Cadets.