View from Manila – lessons learned at CrewConnect for SA
SAIMI Project Manager Odwa Mtati was one of just two delegates from Africa who attended the largest shipping conference in the world, hosted in Manila in November this year.
More than 500 delegates and 80 leaders and stakeholders in the shipping industry from across the globe attended the CrewConnect Global conference, to discuss changes and the latest developments in the maritime industry and their impact on crew and seafarers.
“The fact that there were only two representatives from Africa, one from South Africa and one from Nigeria, shows that Africa’s participation in crew training and recruitment is still very limited. It is critical to continue to position our country, and the continent, as a source of crew members who are professionally skilled and sufficiently trained as seafarers,” Mtati said.
The Port of Manila is the largest seaport in the Philippines, making it the international shipping gateway to the country. The conference was hosted in this capital city renowned for being a great source of crew for multinational shipping companies.
“One of the biggest take-aways from the conference for me was that South African seafarers need to be marketed more extensively as capable and skilled crew. We train hundreds, but countries like the Philippines train thousands of seafarers annually,” said Mtati.
SAIMI’s attendance of the conference is part of an ongoing effort to position the South African seafarer to the world market as professionally qualified. Mtati said the conference offered an ideal opportunity to engage with leaders in the shipping industry, including representatives of shipping companies and various organised bodies.
Panelists discussed issues of critical importance to the maritime industry, including training standards, future regulations, training strategies and technologies.
While considerable changes are on the cards for the traditional model of shipping with rapid technological advancements, training remains a critical element of the industry due to the fast pace of change and high demands of shipping.
In his keynote address, the chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Esben Poulsson, surprised delegates with his call for a possible comprehensive review of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).
He argued that this should be done to modernise STCW’s content in order to meet current and future demands. Created by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 1978, STCW has been updated several times, with the last review done in 2010.