Symposium Focuses on Shaping the Future of Maritime & Oceans Education & Training
The International Maritime & Oceans Education & Training Symposium took place at the World Maritime University on 19 and 20 May and brought together 175 participants from around the globe. The symposium followed the celebrations for the newly inaugurated premises for WMU and included a distinguished list of leading maritime educators and professionals as speakers. Many members of the WMU Board of Governors were in attendance as well as dignitaries present for the inauguration.
The symposium was opened by IMO Secretary-General and WMU Chancellor, Mr. Koji Sekimizu, who emphasized the valuable role WMU plays in supporting the work of IMO in regard to training, research, and technical support. In addition, he stressed the goal of strengthening the co-operation and collaboration between the technical divisions of WMU and IMO to assist in securing and establishing funds to invest in maritime and ocean education, training and capacity building.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President Designate of WMU, noted the important role WMU has played in MET capacity building, and emphasized the importance of collaboration on research with other members of the International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU) to support the important role of maritime education and training. She noted that MET is the bedrock of safe and secure shipping, and of the industry, and is key to its sustainability and stated, “All of us here are closely involved in educating tomorrow’s maritime and ocean leaders. It is incumbent on us not only to deliver the education they need; we also must dedicate ourselves to help create the world they deserve in which to carry out their mission.”
Themes for three sessions guided discussions throughout the two-day symposium and included: Educating Tomorrow’s Maritime and Ocean Leaders; Sustainable MET – History, Contemporary Issues and Future Scenarios; and Contemporary Maritime Issues. The focus of the symposium often turned to the need to expand MET issues to include ocean governance and management, and the critical role MET must play in the sustainability of the maritime industry as well as the global oceans.
Recurring discussions throughout the symposium focused on the need to attract people into the maritime industry by offering a rewarding career path with life-long learning and taking into account corporate social responsibility issues in terms of the health and well-being of people who serve on ships. Promoting the industry and increasing the public recognition of seafarers also emerged as key to making seafaring more attractive, and for the sustainability of the maritime sector, ensuring there are ample opportunities for women. Other challenges recognized included the shortage of MET professionals in MET establishments throughout the world, as well as the need to keep up with the ever-advancing technology in the industry.Suggestions for improving MET included the importance of feedback from the industry as well as investing in research.
Michael Grey, columnist and former Editor of Lloyd’s List and FairPlay, delivered concluding remarks for the symposium and emphsized the need for MET to stay abreast of technologocial advancement in shipping stating, “We shouldn’t be training people to run yesterday’s ships in yesterday’s environment, even though this puts a considerable responsibility on the maritime education and training establishments to operate in parallel with the technical progress of their ultimate customers, rather than struggling to keep up. “ He further noted that discussions regarding contemporary MET issues included the demand for better and more effective ocean governance, and he suggested that industry needs more recognition for the progress it is making in sustainability and efficiency.
Mr. Grey also raised the question as to whether ship owners and operators have responsibilities regarding MET. He proposed that close collaboration between employers and the training establishments they work with would be of great benefit, and stated, “The ‘end user’ of this collaboration ideally ought to be involved with the providers of the training and education, have an investment in its provision and ensure that all its needs are taken into account, so that the people who emerge from it are in the best possible position to run their ships and engage in shore-side management.“
“Maritime Education and Training” is the theme for the 2015 World Maritime Day. The theme was adopted to focus attention on the wider spectrum of maritime education and training, in particular its adequacy and quality, as the bedrock of a safe and secure shipping industry, which needs to preserve the quality, practical skills and competence of qualified human resources, in order to ensure its sustainability. With such a high-level and global group of speakers and participants, the symposium will undoubtedly contribute to shaping the future of MET, and will help to set an agenda for research as well as a foundation for continued debate throughout this particularly MET-focused year.
To view the conference programme, click here.