Industry leaders from the marine transportation sector gathered at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland to talk about the current career opportunities that exist within the marine and oil and gas sectors.
A panel of industry representatives, consisting of Capt. Sid Hynes, executive chairman of Oceanex Inc. and Canship Ugland and chairman of the Marine Institute’s Industry Advisory Board; Capt. Rick Strong, marine services manager, Seamanning Services Limited; Capt. Anthony Patterson, divisional master, Newfoundland and Labrador Division of Company of Master Mariners of Canada; and Brooke Cameron, manager of crewing, Algoma Central Corporation, addressed the current global shortage of marine personnel and highlighted the enormous potential for young people within the industry.
The Marine Institute’s executive director, Glenn Blackwood, said the topic was very relevant and timely. “The growth of the marine transportation industry and oil and gas sector represents an enormous opportunity for young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” he said. “A large number of major developments have recently been identified by the province and they will all require a very large number of marine personnel at all levels.”
It is predicted that by the year 2015 there will be a global shortage of 27,000 ships’ officer as aging baby boomers retire and the industry continues to expand. That’s according to BIMCO, an international shipping association that represents almost two-thirds of the world’s merchant fleet. One of the key messages flowing from the news conference was that industry, government and marine training institutions need to work together to ensure that the demand for highly qualified personnel is met.
Capt. Sid Hynes agreed that a significant number of ships’ officers will be required. “We recruit right across Canada but want more Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” he stated. “The opportunities for young people are right here, right now. We need to get them in here and get them trained. Worldwide demand for ships' captains, navigators and engineers is growing rapidly. Once trained, they can work anywhere in the world and continue to live here at home in Newfoundland and Labrador. They also have the opportunity to work six months of the year and have the other six months off.
“The nautical science and marine engineering programs at the Marine Institute have an international reputation for producing highly skilled graduates in this field. Given that an overwhelming majority of mariners maintain their homes and families in rural communities, their contribution to the province’s economy is significant and ongoing.”
“Newfoundland has a seafaring history and culture,” said Capt. Patterson. “With the Marine Institute at our doorstep, there is a significant opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador to continue to produce some of the most talented mariners in the world.”
Brooke Cameron, manager of crewing with Algoma Central Corporation, the largest Canadian-flag ship owner on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Waterway, agreed with Patterson’s sentiments. “The academic qualifications offered through the Marine Institute, along with industry experience and knowledge acquired through their co-op programs, gives the graduates the best possible start on a long and successful career in the marine industry,” she stated.
The overall message of the news conference was quite clear. The considerable growth in the marine transportation and oil and gas sectors is providing significant opportunities for graduates of the Marine Institute and the young people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I see endless opportunities for those who wish to take advantage of the challenges that the maritime industry has to offer,” said Capt. Rick Strong. “With the expected expansion in offshore oil and gas activity east coast Canada and the demand for ships’ officers both domestic and worldwide, our youth have a tremendous opportunity, when combined with the training capability of the Marine Institute, to seize careers meeting limitless boundaries. What is most impressive about these opportunities are, they can still live where they want to be; likely their home town.”