By DAPO OLAWUNI
Maritime industry stakeholders on Friday last week gathered in Apapa Lagos for the 6th Annual Maritime Students and Youth (AMSAY) conference with the theme, “Job Creation For Nigerian Youths Through Maritime Sector” organized by Platform Communications.
Leading the campaign, Secretary General of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MoU) Capt Sunday Umoren said there must be a conscious effort by both government, companies and individuals to create jobs for seafarers in Nigeria.
Capt Umoren stated that there is a lot of job opportunities in the Nigerian maritime sector, but that these opportunities have to be harnessed.
“We have to be consciously involved in the creation of job employment, this would be done by a company, a government or an individual”
“However, there is a big problem when the responsibility is solely left to the government, if this is done, then we would start having Civil Service State”
“Government can create jobs with the mind of improving employment rate in the country, and not necessarily for profit.
But the individuals would think of job creation with their mind firstly on profit making, and ensuring that people are employed” Umoren stated
In terms of skill aquisition, Capt Umoren urged cadets to first aquire the requisite skills before seeking to get employed.
“You cannot start looking for a job when you don’t have skill, what government do is determination of skill gaps, after this, the next thing is skill development, this brings about training and re-training.
This is to ensure that people enter the labour market well equiped
“Skill development has to be intentional and be a strategy to the actualisation of the need to capture a niche in the maritime cluster” he said
Speaking in the same vein, a ship owner and former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Barr Temisan Omatseye said that there is a shortage of seafarers worldwide. The demand for seafarers globally according to him is at 1.45million while 119,00 ratings are required worldwide.
He lamented that most Nigerian seafarers only rely on their degrees, meanwhile seafaring certification goes beyond academic qualifications.
He urged cadets to go for professional courses and certificates, including specialist maritime qualifications which must be upgraded every five years.
“There are lots of job opportunities out there but the certification sometimes restrict Nigerian seafarers from clinching the opportunities”
“For example, Tanker Familiarisation is a certification that had caused many seafarers to lost job opportunities on wet cargo ships”
“Several opportunities abound in Ship Welding, diving and some others but there are no Nigerians to take the opportunities due to certification”
He urged that certification of seafarers for the Cabotage trade should not compulsorily be carried out in English language.
“We can begin to do it in pidgin language in order to bring the certification down to our own level” Omatseye said.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the occasion, Executive Director, Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Prof. Capt. Abiodun Sule tasked Nigerian students to key into the numerous advantages that exist in the maritime sector through the”Blue Economy”project.
He informed the students that there were lots of opportunities in the maritime industry adding that the Blue Economy which was about the sector, came with it, different jobs descriptions and opportunities.
He noted that “Energy is being harnessed from the Blue Economy, black gold is being harnessed from the Blue Economy, tourism goes on with the Blue Economy, shipping goes on in the Blue Economy and all these require manpower to man it.
“And so, I believe that if the youths are trained to come into this industry, we can take away a great number of our youth out of the shelf of unemployment because if you see today in the maritime sector, most of the players in the maritime sector are not Nigerians.
” The other day we were discussing and there was certain job description and they were looking for Nigerians and the job is called ETO, I think they repair equipment onboard most of our vessels.
“Now you find out that we don’t have Nigerians in that sector and if you are working for that niche, you are paid between $30 to $600 a day” he said.
In his goodwill message, a lecturer at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Prof. Callistus Ibe challenged the students to develop their critical thinking skills, and be creative.
Professor Ibe urged the students to develop their knowledge and skills to benefit from the untapped potentials in the maritime sector.
In his welcome address, Chief Executive Officer, Platforms Communications, Mr. Sylvanus Obasi called on the students to explore all avenues, policies in the maritime sub-sector that can facilitate the chances for more job creation.
Obasi noted that this year’s edition of AMSAY Conference was germane for the Nigerian youths adding that the future of Nigerian students must be secured in line with job creation and potentials of the maritime sector.