How can we train the future operators of the maritime industry?

By Fernando Pavon

The IDB supports maritime industry leadership in pursuit of skills development in the Bahamas

How can we train the future operators of the maritime industry? Can apprenticeships offer appropriate training for this industry? With support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Government of The Bahamas will launch its National Apprenticeship programme with key private sector partnerships to increase the relevant skills and employability of workers, and their probability of employment in strategic sectors.

During the October 18-20, 2017, Maritime Conference “Connecting Education, Ports and People” hosted by the Government of The Bahamas and the IDB, key stakeholders gathered to identify and promote best practices in training and operations, strengthen relationships between the varied parties involved in the maritime sector, and showcase recent technologies impacting shipping operations and delivery of education and training.

Mrs. Amanda Viljoen, the apprenticeship manager for Associated British Ports (ABP), was a keynote speaker at the 2017 Maritime Conference in Nassau. and Mrs. Viljoen provided an overview of the successful British experience with apprenticeship training and its positive impact within the maritime industry. The ABP apprenticeship programme is focused on providing training for supervisory and senior technical roles at Levels 4 and 5, including engineering, marine operations officer, and pilotage.

One of the key elements of the success of ABP’s apprenticeship programs is the active role that employers play in their design and delivery, specifically in identifying skills needs as well as defining occupational standards and shaping curricula. Many developed countries have secured active employer participation in these apprenticeship programs through the development of Sector Skills Councils (SSC), entities that represent employers in a coherent and acknowledged sector of the business community. In the United Kingdom, these employer-led bodies (SSC) have now been supplemented by trailblazer groups of 10 employers in charge of developing standards for specific occupations in an industry.

Maritime Training Opportunities in The Bahamas

The Nassau conference served as a platform for the maritime industry leaders in The Bahamas to express their commitment to establish a Sector Skills Council. The Sector Skills Council will provide input from the private sector for the development of apprenticeships programs by identifying skills gaps and shortages, agreeing on priorities for action on skills and develop national standards to define the skills, knowledge and behaviors they expect as the outcome from training.

The Government of The Bahamas has now agreed to establish a nation-wide Apprenticeship Programme that will consist of on-the-job (80%) plus off-the-job (20%) training for 12 months in three key industries, such as the maritime sector, IT/telecommunications, and medical services. The Bahamian private sector with support of the Government of The Bahamas (via IDB project) will establish three Sector Skills Councils in the three prioritized industries. Within the maritime industry, the plan is to begin apprenticeship training by the end of 2017.

Mrs. Viljoen is currently chairing a “trailblazer” apprenticeship group of 10 employers to develop a new Level 3 standard for Port Facility Operators in the United Kingdom. This Port Facility Operators programme will have a 12-month duration and is being designed with core and elective classes to cater to the distinct roles and settings across the industry, including cargo vs passenger vessels, and industrial vs leisure/marinas. The core curriculum will include health and safety training, knowledge about port operations, math and English. Each aspect will be linked to the standards of the International Marine Organization (IMO). The existing apprenticeship framework covers only training in cargo operations.


About the author

Fernando Pavon is a specialist in the Labor Markets and Social Security Division of the Inter-American Development Bank, IDB, based in Jamaica. Since his beginnings in the Bank in 2004, Fernando has worked in offices in Honduras in supervision/project implementation collaborating with the World Bank as a Junior Professional Associate in the preparation of the country strategy. He also coordinated activities of educational technologies in the Education Division of the IDB in Washington from 2010 to 2012. During 2013-2015, Fernando was in charge of the preparation and supervision of Labor Markets programs in El Salvador. Fernando has a Master in Public Policy from the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

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