Employment & Employability In the Maritime Sector : Challenges & Way Forward

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A sustainable trained workforce is the basic requirement for successful functioning of any commercial organization. It is in the best interest of the company to employ qualified personnel and encourage their personal skills enhancement through regular training. However, in the first place, finding a right talent at the right time has been a big challenge. Employing the right talent and placing them at the right place is even a bigger challenge. A talent crunch across the industry seems to be the cause behind diminishing employment opportunities.

Where to start? First thing, our education system surely needs to be looked into very seriously to enhance the employability of the students. The biggest issue of our education system is its inability to help students understand why they are studying what they are studying. There is no proper tool to measure the skills and assess the strength of the students. Moreover, the curriculum of our schools, colleges and universities has not kept pace with changing era. Our students are competing not just among peer groups in India but globally. The biggest concern is the skewed relation between industry requirements and the quality of available resources.

Employability consists of many facets such as: knowledge, ability, sincerity, willingness, healthiness, operational skills of specific types, approved qualifications and certificates by regulatory authorities etc.

A standard commercial organization incorporates in its systems various methods of monitoring and verification of these factors. A system of imparting various trainings, as required, is set up for ensuring updating of skills and knowledge.

Employability will certainly improve if the training curriculum includes the industry expectations, the skill sets required to do a job diligently and thorough subject knowledge of the same. The prevailing talent crisis in the industry raises the need for up-skilling and re-skilling. It is extremely important for the long-term viability of any organisation to ensure that its employees have the appropriate skills for their roles.

An effective planning and management of maritime programs will help India to develop into a world-class maritime educational hub in Asia-Pacific. India’s maritime education has been focussing on seafarer vocational training and covering narrow technical aspects in shipping. Now we need to not only cover shipping-dedicated subjects such as navigation and communication systems, shipping logistics, ship-broking, chartering practice, marine navigation and meteorology, port planning and management, etc. but also core business subjects like business finance, introduction to business law, global economic environment, operations management, etc. and non-core business subjects such as business (maritime) English, transferrable skills, etc. There is a need to restructure maritime programs incorporating a wide range of theoretical and commercial knowledge and skills, so as to equip graduates with both specialized knowledge in shipping and logistics as well as strong management competency, such as leadership, teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills.

A well-structured and comprehensive maritime program is required offering both width and depth, from certificate and doctorate level, to train up students in business knowledge and analytical skills. Our institutions need to offer constructive advice on how to articulate degree programs with a postgraduate study level in both local and overseas institutions.

About the Author

Mr. David Birwadkar is presently working as Vice President Heading Training & Assessment Department in the The Great Eastern Shipping Co.Ltd. (India’s largest private sector Shipping company) having joined there in December 2006. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and thereafter completed his Marine Engineering Training from Mumbai Port Trust.

With 35 years of professional experience behind him he also contributes by writing technical articles for the shipping periodicals and also speaking at Shipping seminars both in India and abroad.

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