Government has reiterated its commitment to the development of the island’s maritime sector, through ensuring the availability of academic training at the highest level.

This assurance has come from Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, who, in fact, has identified this pursuit as his "mission."

Minister Hutson told?? students and patrons attending a Maritime Careers Showcase this morning, "As Minister responsible for maritime transport, I believe it is not only my mission to raise the profile of the industry, but to make certain?? that there are adequate training opportunities locally, or at least regionally, to the highest level – including captains, first officers and chief engineers – so that persons interested in pursuing new careers or advancing in the maritime industry can access institutions that will help them achieve their goals."

He identified the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic as one local?? institution which currently provided???? basic maritime?? training through its certificate programme in Maritime Operations and Diploma in Marine Diesel Operations.?? Mr. Hutson said his Ministry was working with the SJPP and other relevant ministries to facilitate the institution being able to train and certify persons?? to basic seafarer levels, as required by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping?? for Seafarers (STCW Convention).

"This Convention establishes basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level. Certification is required for all persons seeking employment on board ships, whether in the hotel, deck or engineering department," he explained.

Minister Hutson noted that the Caribbean Maritime Institute in Jamaica, as well as the?? Caribbean Fisheries and Training Development Institute (CFTDI) in Trinidad,???? also offered training of professional seafarers and personnel?? involvedin the fishing industry,?? with some programmes being in keeping with the STCW Convention.?? He said his Ministry had also met with representatives from both institutions and the SJPP, with a view to developing working relationships which would enhance the maritime training currently available locally.

"As Minister with responsibility for International Transport, it is one of my objectives to revive the interest amongst young people in careers in the maritime industry, as well as the aviation industry.

My Ministry will again request that a national development scholarship be awarded in maritime studies, and I look forward to the announcement of the first scholarship winner," the Minister assured.

Indicating that his ministry was also in the final stages towards acceptance of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, which provided comprehensive and modernised rights and protection at work for seafarers, Minister Hutson urged students and persons at the crossroads career-wise to consider entering the field.

"As with all careers, it calls for dedication and discipline," he advised.

The Minister also took the opportunity to present what will be an annual award for outstanding performance in maritime studies.

Seventeen-year old Kynara Seville, the first recipient, has successfully completed the SJPP’s Certificate in Maritime Operations and is now pursuing the Diploma in Marine Diesel Engineering.

In accepting the award, Ms. Seville said it would help to give her further impetus to pursue her dream of becoming a captain.

Several secondary school students attended the Careers Showcase, at the Barbados Coast Guard Headquarters which exposed them to several career and training options in the maritime industry.?? Exhibitors included the Barbados Coast Guard, the Barbados Vocational Training Board, the SJPP and several departments of the Ministry of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage.??

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