First 2016 Maritime Cadets take to the ocean
The first 2016 intake of the National Cadet Programme will be heading out to sea in the next few weeks, the next step in their career path towards becoming global seafarers and growing South Africa’s maritime skills base.
The 24 male and female students from around the country were welcomed as “new ambassadors for South Africa” at an event in Durban today (2 February 2016) attended by key stakeholders from the maritime industry, shipping lines, government and education institutions.
The National Cadet Programme is aligned to the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy initiative launched by the Presidency to unlock the economic potential of the country’s oceans. The programme is managed by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) as one of several projects aimed at developing the skills needed for successful implementation of the Operation Phakisa plans to grow South Africa’s participation in the “blue economy”, SAIMI project manager Odwa Mtati said.
SAIMI Steering Committee chair Prof Derrick Swartz urged the cadets to “carry the best of South African spirit across the world’s oceans”.
Prof Swartz said the cadet programme formed part of the skills development initiatives to support Operation Phakisa, ensuring that “we develop the scientific knowledge, technology and skills to use the resources of the oceans in a way that adds value to the economy of our country”.
SAMSA Chief Operating Officer Sobantu Tilayi said the cadet programme had “grown in leaps and bounds” from small beginnings in 2010.
The cadet programme offers practical training and training berths enabling students to obtain internationally-recognised STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watch-keeping) qualifications and become globally sought-after seafarers, Mtati said.
The project has been running since 2010, initiated by South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), and supported by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the Department of Transport (DOT) and the Transport, Education and Training Authority (TETA).
SAIMI has secured a three-year funding grant from the National Skills Fund (NSF) to manage and grow the cadet programme and other maritime skills development initiatives.
NSF Executive Officer Mvuyisi Macikama said the cadet programme was “important for bridging the skills gap in the maritime economy. Skills shortages hamper economic growth, which is why the purpose of SAIMI is to fast-track skills development so that we can grow our oceans economy”.
The cadet programme has added more than 115 seafaring Officers to South Africa’s maritime skills base, with a 90% success rate for employment with international shipping lines.
The new cadets form part of a corps of more than 140 currently in training. They have completed the first part of their studies at institutions around the country, including Durban University of Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Tshwane University of Technology and Mangosothu University of Technology.
Pre-sea practical training, which includes security training, personal safety, first aid and firefighting, was undertaken at the Grindrod Training Centre in Durban. The practical training and facilitation of training berths is managed by service providers to the programme, the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) in Simon’s Town and Marine Crew Services in Cape Town.
With the pre-sea component completed, the cadets will be developing their sea legs on board foreign-going vessels, including time on container vessels, general cargo vessels, tankers and on some highly specialized ships as well. They will be completing the “sea-time” required to qualify as an Officer of the Watch – the first level of the international STCW sea-faring qualification set by the International Maritime Organisation.
Mtati said more than a dozen shipping lines worked in partnership with the National Cadet Programme to offer training berths to South African seafaring cadets, and SAIMI welcomed interest from any ship owners or operators in becoming partners to the programme.
Swartz thanked the international shipping lines for their support, noting that: “Without the infrastructure of commercial ships being available for training, we would not be able to train thousands of seafarers with the skills we need to fuel the economy under Operation Phakisa.”
Qualifications being offered through the National Cadet Programme are:
• Deck Cadet Learnerships – Certificate of Competency as Officer of the Watch (STCW A-II/1). Applicable to foreign going and unlimited tonnage ships.
• Engineer Cadet Learnerships – Certificate of Competency as Officer of the Watch (STCW A-III/1). Applicable to foreign going and unlimited horsepower ships.
The training costs are covered by the National Skills Fund. The programme is open to students who have completed the first two semesters of the maritime studies, marine engineering or mechanical engineering diploma course. These studies must be completed at a university of technology, or a suitable TVET college. The next intake of 2016 will take place at the end of March.