More training slots sought at Jt Indo-Norwegian seminar
Additional training berths and better deal for rating were two important issues that were brought up at the Indo-Norwegian meet
The joint Indo-Norwegian meetings and seminars which have been held regularly since 1992 have greatly helped to focus on major issues at the same time strengthen the bonds of friendship and the promotion of trade between the two countries. In the recent joint Seminar held on 8 November 2013 the spotlight was on making more training berths being made available to Indians on Norwegian vessels as this would greatly help to enhance the quality of seafarers at the same time help to create more seafarers.
The number of Indian seafarers serving on Norwegian vessels has been increasing steeply over the years and today over 4,500 are employed by Norwegian shipowners. In order to provide more quality seafarers it is felt that Norwegian shipowners too must assist in the training process and invest in training.
Setting the ball rolling, Capt. Rajesh Tandon of the International Maritime Employers' Council (IMEC) impressed on the need to have more training slots. “We need good dedicated and experienced seafarers on board. Of course having a selection process is one way”.
Capt. L. K. Panda, Nautical Adviser to the Govt. of India put forward his requests saying, “We urge that more training slots be made available to Indian seafarers on foreign flag vessels. There is a need to enhance quality. All classification societies though they are part of the inspection and assessment process must also assist in the process of making more training berths available.
Another major issue highlighted was the need to encourage ratings to become officers. Abdul Gani Serang, General Secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India, made a fervent appeal to all ship owners for a better deal and opportunities for ratings to come up the rank. “Unlike the past, ratings are more enthusiastic, techno savvy, “handsome” and also hard working,” he pointed out. “When the tonnage tax was introduced the benefits were meant for ratings too but somewhere down the line the scheme got hijacked and only officers have availed of the benefits. This must change.”
“Ratings,” he said, “get only six months training and are supposed to know everything. But officers are given 18 months training and every few years there is revalidation. Can’t there be something like this for ratings too. Some value added course should also be provided for ratings to enhance their capabilities and be an asset. Ratings are terribly underpaid and hence cannot be expected to bear the cost of the training themselves. If there are ratings who are technically sound and a big asset, the ship owners should go out of their way to finance their training. There is also lot of funds available with the government and other organizations, and these could be used for financing their education. ”
Since Norwegian owners are known for their sincerity, transparency and commitment to training there is anticipation that most of the requests made will be met. Most of the owners take training and upgrading of knowledge very seriously and are actively involved in arranging yearly training conferences and seminars.
Amitava Banerjee, Chief Surveyor with the Govt. of India, who chaired the panel discussions, informed that sweeping changes have been brought in place by the Director General of Shipping despite shortage of training slots.
According to Capt. Rajendra Y. Barve, Director Herald Maritime Services Pvt Ltd., who has had a long stint operating with Norwegian companies informed that India and Norway are working towards a bilateral maritime agreement to provide better commercial conditions in the Indian market for Norwegian shipowners. Today, India is one of the most exciting and complex of all emerging markets, it has a huge potential, a large domestic market, a growing middle class, strong GDP growth and lot of skilled youngsters. These factors make it attractive for foreign companies. But it is also a challenge doing business here despite the strengths and great potential in the Indian market.