Ratings trainees chart new course
SAIMI and the Transport Education & Training Authority (TETA) are charting a new course in maritime training with the launch of a pilot project to train ratings, with the aim to grow the pool of employable South African seafarers.
The pilot group consists of 45 trainees for deck, engine and deck-fishing, 20 of whom gained their first portion of sea-time experience on the SAMSA-owned dedicated training vessel SA Agulhas, when she sailed from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town at the end of May on a voyage chartered by the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON).
These young trainees will be able to climb the ranks from deck or engine rating to able seafarer through further on-board training, which will enable them to eventually achieve a Certificate of Proficiency.
Participant Kuhle Mpengesi, 25, says that she was happy to grab the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with both hands.
“I am not stopping here,” she says. “I am going to forego sleep, work hard and eventually become a ship’s captain.”
Sibonelo Phakathi, also 25, concurs. “I am really excited, this is my first time at sea, but it won’t be the last. This opportunity has opened up a whole new world for me.”
Although they still have a long way to go, once qualified, the ratings do indeed have a host of career opportunities ahead of them, including vessel maintenance, rigging, cargo handling and more.
They would be able to find work on, among others, merchant ships, cargo vessels, cruise liners and commercial fishing vessels, filling vital roles in an almost endless array of both land-based and sea-going positions.
While the project was very much a way of testing the waters, it may herald the start of bigger things to come, with its outcomes being monitored and possibly refined into a training model for future ratings.