In keeping with the “Go To Sea” campaign of the International Maritime Organisation for promoting seafaring, the Indian administration as part of the National Maritime Day celebrations held seminars at different metros of India on 1 April 2010 on the theme “Seafaring, a career of opportunities”.
What has got the industry and the administration worried is the growing attraction amongst youth for the glamour and high paid salaried jobs in the IT, management, finance and other shore based profession with their high life style and comforts. This has led to a fall in the number of youngsters entering the seafaring profession.
Speakers giving presentations at the Mumbai conference were quick to point out the excellent career opportunities that await experienced seafarers when they leave the sea. It was pointed out that opportunities in the maritime fields were growing. Prominently these included ship manning and management, offshore, ports, shipping, dredging, ship yards, designing. Those who did take up jobs in such organisations could do so after a stint of 10 to 15 years of sailing and having become master mariners, chief engineers or even second officers / engineers.
Capt Navin Passey, Managing Director of Wallem Ship Management Pvt Ltd pointed out that seafarers don’t want to spend a long time at sea. “They want to grab the masters and chief engineers post as soon as possible in order to be with their families. Hence at Wallems’ we ensure that seafarers go out to sea for short durations. We have created a work culture with options – work life balance – similar to the software industry. Our seafarers have access to facebook, tweeter, MySpace, etc., SMS and voice calls, etc. so that while sailing they can keep in touch with their young ones at home and talk to them in the confines and comforts of their cabins.”
Y. Khatau, managing director of Varun Shipping Ltd. lamented about the total lack of training for those seafarers leaving the sea. There was an urgent need to provide training to those wanting to pick up jobs ashore and this would prove to be a boon for shipping in India.
A women entrepreneur from the audience mentioned about the significant role women could play in seafaring and that they could form a large portion of the seafaring community if encouraged. Though the response from women joining the seafaring profession has not been good it was felt that providing concessions for women, better amenities on board and other facilities could play an important role in getting better response from the young ladies into the profession.
“They have an all women team on the Air India aircraft flying the Delhi London route. Similarly, why not there be ships run by all ladies crew,” commented another lady. “Now that the Indian administration is headed by a lady viz. Lakshmi Venkatachalam, who is the Director General of Shipping, government of India, we could bank on her in having more women power into seafaring?”