/ 23 October 2011

Ships ahoy: SA needs more sailors

Ships Ahoy: Sa Needs More Sailors

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has called on government and industry to address a severe shortage of skilled maritime professionals.

“Our skills shortage is so severe. Some of our highly skilled marine personnel are reaching retirement age, resulting in an increasing dependence on expensive expatriate labour,” he said at the Seafarers’ Merit Awards in Cape Town on Saturday.

“This problem has been looming for more than 16 years,” he said.

“We call on the local shipping industry to inject more resources into training and as government we must do more to promote maritime training and the maritime industry in general,” he said.

It was urgent that the government develop a policy that had incentives to attract young people to sea-faring professions.

“As a country, it is upon us to ascertain that those hardworking individuals such as those receiving awards tonight remain in the areas of their expertise so that we keep the sustainable momentum at sea,” said Ndebele.

He said the maritime industry was a key contributor to South Africa’s economic development and it had to “generate the skills it requires over and above just sustaining itself”.

Fishermen, salvers, merchant mariners, offshore riggers, engineers, harbour pilots and rescue crew were among those honoured at the awards. — Sapa