Stakeholders in the maritime sector have declared that shortage of manpower is a threat to the future of the global maritime sector despite the versatility of its vessels, sophistication and increase in fleet.
They noted that of a greater concern was the Nigerian situation which they described as critical.
Their view was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a stakeholders’ forum entitled ‘Urgent Call to Rethink Maritime Education and Training’ organised by the Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron.
According to the communiqué, the interactive session featured participants from indigenous shipping companies, training institutions, young seafarers and government agencies, including the Nigerian Navy.
The stakeholders agreed that there were serious problems facing maritime professionals and that the bulk centred on inadequate training and low-quality professional education.
They noted that the situation in the Nigerian maritime sector had resulted in an unhealthy state where local vessel owners were compelled to hire foreign professionals at the detriment of the local manpower, despite paying foreign professionals much higher fees.
They declared that this was no longer acceptable to indigenous seafarers trained at the nation’s maritime institute who did not enjoy the same privileges first generation maritime professionals enjoyed.
The communiqué read in part, “It is clear that although there are robust maritime legislation and regulations for maritime education and training set by the International Maritime Organisation through its conventions and local authorities, these are not being complied with fully by both the relevant government agencies tasked with monitoring these and maritime training institutions.
“There is a global trend in the re-thinking maritime education and training in line with technological advancements where smart shipping, autonomous ships and maritime cybersecurity are topics of the day.
“Nigeria needs to re-evaluate its policies and approach on maritime education and training in line with global trends.”
The stakeholders outlined three key issues affecting the maritime sector such as lack of national policy and strategy on maritime education and training, inadequate funding and ineffective implementation and compliance monitoring of existing regulations.
They recommended a national policy on maritime education and training to effectively address the human capital inadequacies facing the industry.
“Such policy will among other things provide strategy for meeting the funding needs of the sector, set quality standards for maritime training institutions, as well as ensure that Nigeria’s maritime professionals meet the country’s specific needs in the light of technological advancements in the maritime industry.
“A national policy will provide direction and guidance for effective collaboration between the various agencies of government and industry stakeholders to efficiently utilise Nigeria’s abundant human resources and maritime assets to achieve economic growth,” they stated.
According to them, funding is critical in the education and training of maritime professionals, adding that it is useful in providing essential training aids such as simulators and workshops and attracting qualified and experienced lecturers in the maritime training institutions.
They called on the government to set aside some portion of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund for the acquisition of a national training ship.
They urged the Federal Government to review the tax regime for vessel acquisition by local shipowners, adding that this would help to grow the national fleet and hence provide training and employment opportunities on these vessels.
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