Achieving a remarkable ‘first’ for South Africa’s Maritime Chamber of the Transport SETA (Sectoral Education and Training Authority), thirteen young cadets qualified on 23 April 2005 for the National Certificate in Maritime Operations (NQF Level 3) Learnership.

As unemployed school leavers in the Eastern and Western Cape area in early 2004, the youngsters faced an uncertain future in job or career opportunities. But their prospects changed when, in April, they were recruited by Oceana as one of the companies in the maritime industry participating in a SETA affiliated skills development programme.
“These recruits were the first trainees in our South Africanisation programme,” explained Andries Bester, resourcing and development manager for Desert Diamond. “Our five-year plan is to train 123 junior and senior crew members from local, unemployed school leavers to alleviate the shortage of qualified navigation and marine engineering officers in the maritime industry.

“I am proud to say that we are the first stakeholder in the TETA programme whose trainees have qualified as professional able seamen. All our trainees are permanent crew aboard the Desert Diamond. Since we began training in 2003, of the 99 Russian crew complement we now have 59 South African crew members. This certainly demonstrates our wholehearted commitment to Government’s vision of job creation and skills transfer.”

Andries goes on to outline the success of the programme. “Highlights are the recent appointments of two South African trainees as trainee fish masters, a second mechanic, two ponno masters, a cadet studying for his engineering watchkeeping certificate, two trainee reefer mechanics, a fishmeal motorman mechanic, a group of deck cadets, the replacement of two Russian cooks and a steward with South Africans and the replacement of the laundress with our first South African female – and most impressive of all, the average age of these youngsters is only about 20 to 21 years.

“We are now focusing on ongoing training and development of South African replacements for the professional positions presently held by Russian officers,” says Andries.