PH needs more highly skilled, more computer savvy seafarers, port workers in next 10 years » Manila Bulletin News

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By Chito Chavez

The Philippines needs more highly skilled and more compute savvy seafarers and port workers in the next 10 years, according to the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

In the recent launch of the 10-year Maritime Industry Development Program (MIDP), Marina administrator Dr. Marcial Quirico Amaro III said the country needs to produce more computer literate seafarers and port workers because of the ever-changing technology in ship management.

Credit: Flickr / MANILA BULLETIN

He noted the particular demand of the maritime manpower sector is one of the reasons why they have launched the MIDP to be able to come up with plans and programs that would make our seafarers and workers more competitive.

“We want to be able to produce doable and sustainable programs coming from all stakeholders in the industry to be able to produce highly qualified seafarers. We also want to create a robust shipbuilding industry, a dynamic shipping hub and sustainable fishing sector to make the Philippines a major maritime country not just in Asia but the world,” Amaro said.

Amaro said it was the first time in several decades that the Department of Transportation through the Marina, is drawing up a 10-year development plan for the entire maritime industry which includes manpower training and development, regulations, shipyard, local and overseas shipping and fishing.

He pointed out that while the Philippines is an archipelagic country, it has not maximized its strategic location in Asia to become a major maritime and seafaring nation.

It was noted that there are many challenges in the maritime industry especially with respect to manpower development of seafarers and port workers.

Amaro pointed out that aside from the expected ballooning of shortage of officers for seafarers, there is a need to retool seamen on the latest technology to keep their competitiveness in the world market.

“We are still among the leading providers of seafarers in the world but many countries are studying to be equally competitive if not more competitive and are ready to take our place if we fail to cope with the changing times. They are just waiting to lose our competitiveness,” Amaro said.

Filipino seafarers contribute around P270 billion a year to the Philippine economy.

He further stressed that the country needs to move fast in order to cope with the shortage of merchant marine officers as it currently suffers a shortage of 16,500. The figure is expected to increase to 92,000 in 2020 and balloon to 147,000 in 2025 due to the ever-increasing demand.

He further stated that the maritime industry is also in need of highly qualified supervisors and workers to take charge of the ports in view of the growing demand for shipping in the Southeast Asian region.

In order to address the need for more highly qualified workers for shipboard assignments and shore-based jobs, Amaro said Marina is set to take over the National Maritime Polytechnic, the government training center for the maritime industry located in Tacloban City, Leyte.

He said NMP, currently under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), should not be competing with the private sector in training maritime workers but should instead be a tool to make existing workers more competitive both in the local and international market.

Amaro said once Marina takes over NMP by the end of 2017 or early 2018, the school would train for free senior officers in the seafaring industry to enable them to cope with the new technology in ship operations and management. It would also train workers for various jobs in the maritime industry including shipyard operations, and port operations.

“Our manpower development system is not just limited to the seamen. We also have the other shore-based workers like the stevedores, dockers, longshoremen and other allied workers. We have more than 400,000 seamen who we want to increase as well as the more than 300,000 workers in our ports. We want to increase the number and their competencies because we want to make our country a major maritime country in the next 10 years,” Amaro added.

 

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