Philippines Hopes to Become Main Source of Maritime Officers for World

Already the self-proclaimed "manning capital of the world," the Philippines has recently enacted measures that it hopes will make the country "the main source of quality managers and officers for the world shipping fleets starting this year, 2008," a January 14 Philippine Information Agency (PIA) press release states. Though "about 30% of the global shipping fleet's manpower complement" is Filipino, only one of every three Filipino seamen is a ship officer, cites a January 12 Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) press statement.

The DOLE press release goes on to summarize Labor and Employment Secretary Aurturo D. Brion's sentiments at the Philippine Manning Convention 2007 last November when he called for a "strong partnership between the government and various stakeholders in the maritime sector, to enable the country to solidly keep up with the global preference for Filipino seafarers, and address the emerging, global demand for Filipino maritime officers." Brion continue to state that more education and skills for Filipino seafarers would be a "good starting point" to address.

And education is just what is at the center of the latest enacted measures that are "designed to encourage more Filipino seafarers to become maritime officers, and stimulate growth in seafaring and maritime officership as preferred professions among Filipino youths in consonance with the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) amended Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW)." The measures include the "development of the Management Level Course (MLC) for Filipino officers, complemented by an effective bridging program." Brion stated that this bridging program ". . . would enable a mechanical engineer, for instance, after completing the required period of shipboard duty, to progress on as a marine engineer."

DOLE is also devising the Marine Industry Action Plan for 2008 that ". . . will comprise the Department's contribution to the growth and development of the industry." A main focus of this plan will be ". . . enhancing the POEA's [Philippines Overseas Employment Administration's] computerization program and recruitment processing; pursuit of an OWWA-supported [Overseas Workers Welfare Administration-supported] effort to upgrade the competencies of faculty members of maritime education and training institutions and address the shortage of officers; and implementation, under the aegis of the PRC [Professional Regulation Commission], of the Management Level Course (MLC) in the maritime industry."

For the latest information, see the PIA Web site: http://pia.gov.ph/