The partnership between the State Department for Shipping and Maritime and HELB is important because as a country, the Government policy is now to leverage on the blue economy sector in order to grow the economy. While careers in the sector are very marketable, they are also life long, sustainable, and developmental; they also very expensive to achieve and attain.
Having previously worked at the Kenya Maritime Authority [KMA] as a Director General, I can attest to the fact that there were indeed gaps as well as the need for a more structured way for funds to be put towards training so as to make these opportunities more accessible for Kenyan Youth. Picking it at two levels, one is equipping the training institutions with the space to be able to put up the equipment needed for the trainee, which has to be fit for purpose depending on the work environment they will eventually be deployed to. This also meant addressing the capacity of schools for training which is what led to the policy decision to start the Bandari College as it was called then and eventually give it a stand-alone status into Bandari Maritime Academy [BMA] as we know it as today.
The second gap identified was affordability of that training because the investment is capital intensive and highly specialized. Further, every five years an external audit on Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers [SCTCW], ensures the training in terms of equipment, facilities, delivery in terms of the trainers is up to par.
Having HELB as a partner therefore helps to materialize the aspiration of maritime education and training so as to empower the youth to move from the floor level to better paying jobs in the Maritime Sector. A ship captain earns on average $10,000 and remember this is a job with all expenses paid and great saving potential since there is nowhere to spend the salary while at sea. The Maritime Sector therefore provides immense opportunities for us as a country to invest in and develop our nation.