To be competitive, Filipino seafarers must be highly skilled and computer savvy, according to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
Marina Administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro 3rd stated this during the launching of the 10-year Maritime Industry Development Program (MIDP) Program at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City last week. Amaro said the country needs to produce more computer literate seafarers and port workers because of changing technology in ship management.
“We want to be able to produce doable and sustainable programs coming from all stakeholders in the industry to be able to produce highly qualified seafarers. We also want to create a robust shipbuilding industry, a dynamic shipping hub and sustainable fishing sector to make the Philippines a major maritime country not just in Asia but the world,” Amaro said during the event that was held in partnership with the SM Global Pinoy.
He said it was the first time in decades that the Department of Transportation through Marina is formulating a 10-year development plan for the entire maritime industry, which includes manpower training and development, regulations, shipyard, local and overseas shipping and fishing.
The Marina head pointed out that while the Philippines is an archipelagic country, it has not maximized its
strategic location in Asia to become a major maritime and seafaring nation. He pointed out that there are many challenges in the maritime industry, especially with respect to development of seafarers and port workers.
He said there is a need to retool seamen on the latest technology to keep their competitiveness in the world market. “We are still among the leading providers of seafarers in the world but many countries are studying to be equally competitive if not more competitive and are ready to take our place if we fail to cope with the changing times. They are just waiting to lose our competitiveness,” Marcial added.
Filipino seafarers contribute around P270 billion a year to the Philippine economy. Currently there is a shortage of 16,500 merchant marine officers . The figure is expected to increase to 92,000 in 2020 and balloon to 147,000 in 2025 from increasing demand.
In order to address the need for more highly qualified workers for shipboard assignments and shore-based jobs, Amaro said Marina is set to take over the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP), the government’s training center for the maritime industry located in Tacloban City, Leyte.
He said NMP, currently under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), should not be competing with the private sector in training maritime workers but should instead be a tool to make existing workers more competitive for the local and international market.