New academy launches to train Bermudians for maritime careers
People looking for a career on the water will soon be able to earn international certifications on island through the newly launched Bermuda Maritime Academy.
The non-profit organisation is set to offer standards of training, certification and watchkeeping course starting on October 24 as part of an effort to prepare Bermudians for opportunities in the maritime industry.
The STCW course — made up of five components covering fire training, first aid, survival techniques, personal safety and social responsibility — is a basic standard for many seafaring positions which has not been available on island.
Michael Winfield, the chairman of the Bermuda Maritime Academy, said the course was a first step for the fledgeling organisation, which hopes to be an aid to Bermudians interested in maritime jobs.
He said that through the work of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation and the Endeavour programme, many young people had discovered a passion for the ocean and sailing, but encountered barriers when trying to turn that into a career.
“There is little advice on maritime careers in the school system,” he said. “Those that were interested really had to fight to succeed.”
Mr Winfield said the maritime academy had worked with other local organisations to make the most of local resources, with the classroom portions of the courses to be held at Bermuda College.
He added that the group is also working with the Department of Workforce Development in an effort to offer support for those interested in the courses.
Mr Winfield added that the availability of STCW training on island could become even more important if the Government chooses to align local regulations with international standards, which would require many who work in Bermuda’s waters to receive certification.
Mario Thompson, a director of the academy and pilot warden for the Department of Marine and Ports, said that in his 40 years in the maritime trade he had seen that while there were opportunities, there was not an established pathway for young Bermudians.
He said the maritime academy was the realisation of a long-term dream for a one-stop facility that would offer training, guidance and career pathways in the industry locally and internationally.
“The maritime academy is both necessary and important for Bermuda as we aim to create maritime training and employment opportunities,” he said.
Mr Thomson added: “This has been a long time coming and much needed.”
He said that there are a wide range of career options in the maritime industry and the academy would be able to assist young Bermudians land those opportunities.
Mr Thompson highlighted positions in the Department of Marine and Ports with the ferry, tugboat and pilot boat services, along with roles at Harbour Radio, Stevedoring Services and the shipping industry.
Angelique Burgess, another director of the academy, said that in addition to assisting Bermudians, it would also offer training opportunities for visiting mariners, noting that sailors need to take an STCW refresher course every five years.
“When cruise ships come, they sometimes stay for three or four days, and all of the people on those cruise ships need to have STCW certification and need to refresh every five years,” she said.
Ms Burgess added that there was a worldwide shortage of seafarers in the maritime industry, and the STCW certification opens many doors for Bermudians.
“It would enable them to travel worldwide,” she said. “They can then apply for any job with any shipping agency because they have that basic requirement, which has been lacking in Bermuda for some time.
“This is the ticket that will enable them to pursue any dream in the industry that they desire.”
Alan Burland, deputy chairman, emphasised that the STCW certification is recognised around the world and would help to create opportunities for Bermudians on cruise ships, super yachts, shipping boats and more.
He added that the STCW certification was “just the start” and the maritime academy intended to introduce more courses and programmes on island in the future.
Mr Burland said the five component STCW course would cost $2,750, but there were discussions about scholarships.
“In the discussions we have had with the Department of Workforce Development, they are looking to provide scholarships that may cover 50 per cent of that cost or maybe more,” he said.
“As we grow, we would also look to create a fund to help aspiring Bermudians who might need the help.”
Mr Winfield said that the introduction of education options and career guidance are just a part of what the Bermuda Maritime Academy hopes to accomplish.
“We are working to identify and develop strategic partnerships, both locally and internationally, to co-ordinate existing and future resources and opportunities,” he said.
“We will also work to promote co-ordination, protection, knowledge, research and conservation of Bermuda’s marine environment, and last, but not least, to facilitate improved efficiency and donor fund utilisation of maritime charitable organisations.”
For more information, visit bermudamaritimeacademy.com.