SA Agulhas Sets Sail with Pilot Seafarer Training to Create Jobs
Fresh from its recent dry-docking in East London, the newly refurbished SA Agulhas sailed out of Port Elizabeth Harbour on Thursday on a research and training voyage that will pilot a new programme aimed at growing the pool of employable South African seafarers.
This new chapter in South African maritime history sees a first group of 20 deck and engine rating trainees, and three cadets, gaining practical sea-time towards their international seafaring qualifications aboard the dedicated training vessel owned by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The vessel has previously carried maritime cadets from Cape Town to Antarctica, to London. But this new pilot project is a first and takes on board rating trainees who are able to climb the ranks from Deck- or Engine Rating, up to Able Seafarer level through further on board training, which will enable them to eventually achieve a Certificate of Proficiency.
The ratings trainees are part of a group of 45 candidates in a pilot project facilitated by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and funded by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA).
Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, said: “As part of our commitment to address the high unemployment rate, this rating training provides a wider scope of maritime training and skills development.
“It addresses the gap for career opportunities. Young people would be able to find jobs in areas such as maintenance of the vessels, its equipment and gear, in rigging and deploying equipment, and handling and securing cargo.”
“The vessel is well suited for its training role, and its recent refurbishments at the dry dock, is testimony of its strength and calibre,” Tilayi said.
By supporting the hands-on aspects of maritime training, the project partners are contributing to skills development as outlined in the South African government’s Operation Phakisa plan to fast-track the growth and development of the oceans economy.
SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said getting a project of this nature off the ground was the result of strong partnerships and collaboration, involving both public and private sector role-players and training providers.
“Special mention should be made of TETA as the funder and SAMSA as the owner of the vessel for providing this valuable opportunity for the trainees to gain sea-time,” he said.
Malcolm Alexander, TETA’s maritime education training and development practitioner, said: “We are pleased to see this pilot training project taking shape with the trainees being able to gain practical experience at sea aboard the SA Agulhas.
“The project expands TETA’s involvement in maritime sector education and training at a practical skill level and is a positive for the maritime sector and oceans economy growth.
“It also grows the pool of South African seafarers available for local and global employment.”
The next phase of the project will entail building the capacity of TVET (Technical Vocational Education & Training) Colleges to offer the training. The current group of trainees are being managed by the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and the Sea Safety Training Group. Marine Crew Services is also a partner to the project, having agreed to place trainees in their managed fleets for further training.
The SA Agulhas will be sailing along the coast to Cape Town, on charter to the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF), to retrieve data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change.