Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Workforce Development


April 1, 2018

Some of Global's environmental team members participating in boat operations training and man-overboard drills.

The California State University Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime) requires that all cadets take its four-year Edwards Leadership Development program as part of their education credits. "The program is in its fourth year, but is in its first year of full implementation now," says Stephen Kreta, Vice President for Student Affairs.

The Edwards Leadership program takes students through a step-by-step training process. For example, the freshman year is designed around self-discipline and personal resilience components, the second year focuses on the tenets of accountability for self and another. The third year has students learning about team and group leadership, and the final year prepares students for their entry into the marine industry with the professional leadership readiness curriculum.

Once completed, graduates can print out a leadership transcript that demonstrates all the activities they've engaged in, as well as their level of self-assessment and awareness of what leadership is. This complements their four-year academic transcript.

Within the Edwards Leadership program are components such as bridge and engine resource management (BRM) and the fundamentals of leadership. "There are a number of classes that count as leadership development courses that bring some skill or attribute from the academic perspective," says Kreta. "And then there's also experiential learning which includes their time with coops and internships, time on our training ship, and on other merchant vessels." In addition to the course work, students also take part in several areas of community engagement; for instance, they may help at a food kitchen, assist in building homes, etc.

The career center has a number of programs that work with students at different levels such as helping them with writing resumes and doing mock interviews, and the campus also provides information on health and wellness, and mental health issues.

The majority of students are of high-school age, while some are in their late 20s and 30s. Additionally, the number of female students at CMA has been slowly increasing; the most recent freshman intake had 20 percent for the first time ever, according to Kreta. "It's a target for us to have 30 percent women across the campus," he says.

Last month, Cal Maritime ran its seventh annual Women in Maritime Leadership conference, which brings cadets from different academies together with women in the profession. It's open to any woman in the maritime industry to participate in professional development, and a portion of it was also focused on high school women outreach.

"On the west coast, we're the only four-year maritime college," says Kreta. "Many of our grads are in west coast business. This is an opportunity for them to come back together and share experience and help each other out."

Cal Maritime is also looking at new programming for Electro-Technical Officers. "Many international fleets carry an Electro-Technical Officer, whereas United States ships don't go by that title, yet they're responsible for the same kind of systems on board the ship. It's high voltage in some ways, and very electronic in nature. So we are doing some more training for merchant officers, those going into the industry shipboard in electro-technology work." says Kreta.

Polar Ice Navigation is another area the academy is looking to begin delivering as soon as it becomes a requirement.

At Cal Maritime new facilities are being designed, including a new academic programs building and new residence hall, which will allow for more innovation labs, more classroom and academic administration space, as well as a new learning commons branch of the library which will offer distributed learning programs.

Cal Maritime is also preparing to develop an oceanography degree program starting in 2020, and faculty hiring is underway. "We're hiring in that area because we think ocean sciences, global warming, changes in tidal issues, is a big part of what we have to be preparing our students for in the future," says Kreta.

Cal Maritime's Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB) was recently approved as International Safety Management Compliant. "All of our students on the Training Ship become aware of ISM compliance because we have to meet that standard on the Training Ship," says Kreta. "As I understand it, we're the first maritime Training Ship to be approved for that, although others are in progress."

Seattle-based Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies-Pacific Maritime Institute (MITAGS-PMI) offers a two-year apprenticeship program in partnership with local marine companies. Previously known as the Workboat Academy, the program has been expanded to include unlimited license students, both for oceans and inland waters. The new program was approved by the US Coast Guard last year.

Students who take the 28-month program divide their time between 26 weeks of classroom instruction and 360 days of sea training. Apprentices sign on with a Partner Marine Company, that retains them for the duration. By the end of the program, they will have met all the US Coast Guard requirements and are ready to sit for licensing exams. The curriculum ensures skills and abilities taught meet Mate and Deck Officer license requirements.

While there has been some drop in the numbers of students coming through the program due to the downturn in the oil industry and other economic reasons, Dale Bateman, Assistant Director of MITAGS-PMI's west coast campus, says that graduation rates are still high. "I've not seen a decrease in the number of younger folks expressing an interest in the maritime world," he explains.

MITAGS-PMI boasts a 75 percent graduation rate of all those who enter into training. Approximately 90 percent go on to pass the Coast Guard exams, and an overwhelming majority are still working in the industry today, many of them with the same company they apprenticed with. "The biggest challenge is finding companies that have room on vessels to take on apprentices," says Bateman. "Bunks on board vessels are limited, and as companies work to make their crewing more efficient, sometimes having space for a trainee is difficult."

In regard to simulation training, Bateman says there are a number of courses, including shiphandling and watchkeeping, for which it is essential, and he says simulation is still a very cost-effective way to train mariners. "I can do in one afternoon what might take a month on a real ship. And while we can't replace a real ship in its entirety with our simulators, we focus on training higher-stake, high-stress scenarios," he says.

The recent introduction of Subchapter M requirements hasn't significantly altered workboat training courses, according to Bateman. The biggest change is the increase in refresher training and the addition of some training requirements for the workboat sector which previously only applied to deep-sea, unlimited vessels and crews. MITAGS-PMI is also in the process of creating Subchapter M training for companies who have new people coming into the industry as Deckhands and Able Seamen.

MITAGS-PMI's Deck Apprenticeship program has been running for 10 years, and now there's a new initiative to build a similar program for engineers. MITAGS-PMI is partnering with the Seattle Maritime Academy to create and deliver this new engineering program.

Compass Courses located in Edmonds is celebrating 17 years of business this month, and 2018 looks to be a very good year.

Compass offers 24 courses that include such topics as ECDIS, Leadership & Managerial Skills, Basic and Advanced Firefighting, and Tank Ship Dangerous Liquids. The 5-Day Original Radar Observer (Unlimited) Course and associated 1-Day Radar Observer Recertification courses may be discontinued in the future, pending potential new legislation the National Maritime Center (NMC) has sent to Congress for approval.

Owner Julie Keim reports that having consistency in course date offerings helps provide mariners with a reliable schedule, particularly with the Able Seaman and Proficiency in Survival Craft and Basic Safety Training. "It's all about the schedule," she says, "We try very hard to accommodate their needs."

Owning a professional maritime school has some inherent challenges in working with the National Maritime Center in renewing and writing new courses. "We try to stay on top of the ever-changing regulations," explains Keim. "Giving out advice to mariners on their licenses and documents has become a full-time job in our office. The NMC has really stepped up to help schools which is helpful."

Currently, Compass Courses is actively looking for part-time instructors across all its courses. "This is a great opportunity for a mariner who is passionate about maritime training and wants to give back to their industry," adds Keim.

Compass is also excited to be partnering with the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend. "They have a great maritime facility and it is a great home for Compass Courses. We will be scheduling our courses on their campus soon."

On-The-Job Training

Seattle's Global Diving and Salvage, Inc. takes a proactive approach to workforce development. The company regularly participates in community and marine job fairs to bring more awareness about careers in the maritime field.

Global is also partnered with Tongue Point Job Corps Center, an on-the-job training school based in Oregon, to increase maritime outreach. "Students don't realize that they can make a good salary and travel to interesting places," says Jennifer Jensen, VP of Quality Assurance at Global.

Students are also introduced to on-the-job training and shadowing opportunities with Global. For instance, when Global participated in the relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey, several students were sent to work alongside experienced Global workers.

In addition to school outreach, Global connects with community groups, some of which represent people who've been out of the workforce for some time, as well as those with disabilities.

"The greatest challenge is that there's not a big pool of students out there anymore," says Jensen, referring to the fact that many of the younger generation haven't developed hands-on mechanical skill sets. "They're not necessarily interested in mechanical things. When we hire individuals, we provide them training on how to hitch a trailer, operate a boat, rules of the road on the water and navigation lanes."

While plenty of job shadowing is part of training for employees, Jensen says the company is transitioning to a competency-based program to ensure workers have the skills before they're put in a situation where they have to use them.

Regarding the aging workforce, for Global, it's not so much that there is a shortage of employees coming through the ranks, but that the challenge is in the transfer of knowledge and experience to others. "Part of that effort is encouraging our supervisors to take someone under their wing and mentor them," says Jensen.

"We have jobs ranging from one day to months at a time, so we are thoughtful about who's being paired up with who in order to help facilitate that information being shared." Recently, Global began delivering dive supervisor training to its employees. The course curriculum was created by a senior individual with 40 years of commercial maritime commercial diving experience, which is also facilitating the transfer of information between the cross-generational workforce.

Local economic drivers are also influencing the availability of potential employees. "You can really see that in Seattle and with the rest of the local marine companies," remarks Jensen. "It's hard to find people. But in other locations around the country, it differs. I think those forces right now are very impactful."

Global is embarking on a new professional development program that's in its early stages. The training will allow employees to change roles or learn new skills to expand current roles and have the opportunity to be sent on additional jobs and make additional income. "We want to provide that to our employees," says Jensen. "We're excited about it."

Certification Programs

The Seattle Maritime Academy offers two certification programs, and is involved in several initiatives for attracting high school students into the industry.

SMA's Marine Deck Technology and Marine Engineering Technology programs are both approximately one-year long. It includes nine months of hands-on instruction and then they get the student an industry at sea internship. The Deck program includes 90 days of sea time, and the Engineering program requires 60 days. This means students have less work to do to get their sea time than they would if they went to sea as an Ordinary Seaman, or Wiper.

"Our sea training gives students opportunities to see a real ship work, and meet US Coast Guard requirements," says Sarah Scherer, Director/Associate Dean. "In the SMA program, at-sea internship is the last thing they do, so if a non-union company takes one of our students on board as an intern, as soon as the student gets their sea time and turns in their paperwork to USCG, they'll be ready to work. They will get their upgrade AB National and their SCTW rating forming as part of a navigational watch (RFPNW)."

In addition, the Marine Deck Technology students leave the program with a Vessel Person with Designated Security Duties (VPDSD) and Lifeboatman/Personal Survival Craft. Marine Engineering Technology students leave with a Qualified Member of the Engineering Department (QMED) National credential and their STCW rating forming part of an engineering watch (RFPEW) which allows them to sail nationally as an AB deck or QMED or internationally as an Ordinary Seaman or a Wiper.

Over the past two years, SMA has been developing the Youth Maritime Collaborative, along with The port of seattle, Seattle Goodwill, the Manufacturing Industry Council and various other youth maritime educators. The group put on events that help recruit both high school students and marine companies to take part in internships that provide experiential learning.

"High school students and others in the community don't realize that Washington State is the third largest economic driver in the country with a $37 billion industry, but all trades are struggling," says Scherer. "You don't have to have a four-year degree to make a good living."

Groups like Foss Maritime and Washington State Ferries are bringing their company-specific simulation training to SMA for bridge and engineering simulation training, which Scherer points out, is important to the way they develop their workforces.

With Washington SeaGrant funding, SMA has also been providing four-day summer experiential workshops for high school students. Students learn marine safety, deck navigation, how to tie knots, basic engineering, and marine science. "On the third day, we send them out on the training vessel," explains Scherer. "They go out through the locks to three different stations and collect scientific data, return, then are shown how to crunch the data." Scherer is planning six sessions this year in the Seattle area, with another two in other communities.

Currently under development with the Seattle School District Skill Center Program, and awaiting funding, is a new initiative that will see a high school skills center be run out of SMA. The proposed plan is follow the skills center model to have students engage in two and a half hours of learning per day. The course will provide some academic credits which will help boost their career path. "Once this program begins, SMA will put it forth for state recognition as the first vessel operations pre-apprenticeship in the US," says Scherer.

SMA is also beginning talks with the Cal Maritime Academy and Texas A&M at Galveston, about how to facilitate the pathway for students going from K12 to a Bachelor degree if they decide to transfer after their training at SMA.

Cadet Elizabeth O'Bryan on the bridge of the Training Ship Golden Bear. Photo courtesy of California Maritime Academy.

A new initiative to obtain, train and retain skilled workers in construction-related trades was recently put into action by the port of seattle Commission as part of a region-wide effort to address a major worker shortage. The aging workforce and an ever-increasing demand for local workers is what's driving the $3 Million project.

Reportedly, the regional labor supply is forecast to underserve demand by an average of nine to 10 percent between 2018-2042, which could drastically impact projects with delays, and increase costs to the Port as well as other public and private developers. Recruiting from various groups such as women and minorities is part of the plan, as well as expanding pre-apprenticeship and classroom training, and providing support services to assist with childcare and transportation.


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