The Marine Institute is reaching out half a world away to help improve the livelihoods of Filipino seafarers.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) recently awarded a $318,743 contract to MI International to work with the Government of Philippines through its Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The project, Distance Education for Seafarers, will enhance access to seafarer education and assist current seafarers in upgrading their education to avail of officer-level positions.
The Marine Institute will develop distance education programming and policy to provide improved access to marine training for unemployed and underemployed Filipino seafarers.
“The Marine Institute has implemented six projects in the Philippines over the past 14 years,” said Bill Chislett, director of MI International, the international office of the institute. “This new three-year initiative will benefit seafarers in enabling them to avail of training while still preserving their current jobs and income. Distance education will also assist men and women in rural and remote areas to benefit from training opportunities without the expense and family disruption of travelling to a larger centre.”
The maritime sector is a vital component of the Philippines economy with the country currently supplying between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of seafarers for the global maritime industry. The ability of Filipinos to secure or maintain employment in the field is important to their livelihoods, as well as the livelihoods of the families they support.
However, about 85 per cent of Filipino seafarers are working as lowest-paid ratings rather than senior officers. The greatest demand within the global maritime sector is for seafarers with officer level training.
The Government of Philippines wants to increase the supply of Filipino ships officers to meet this demand and raise employment prospects for current and future seafarers. In the end, it hopes to improve the development of the nation by reducing poverty and unemployment and strengthening its private sector.
The project will include the development of distance education courses, led by John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU) in the Philippines. JBLFMU will then assist other maritime higher education institutions in the country to build their capacity to implement distance education programs.
The project will also involve institutions and seafarers from Mindanao and Visayas, among other regions, and open additional training opportunities to women and disadvantaged groups by supporting those institutions that are increasing participation of non-traditional and marginalized workers.
The project is funded by CIDA through the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC).
This is the second major initiative for MI International in the maritime sector in the Philippines. From 1999-2003, the Marine Institute helped improve government and institutional capacity to comply with international maritime standards, including environmental aspects, to ensure the country‘s continued participation in the maritime sector.