“Sea the World” – A Pathway to the Maritime Industry
When a young person gets to glimpse a possible future career, it can have a profound impact. But students can only dream about what they know, and most only know about mainstream careers in traditional professions like medicine, finance, law, teaching or science.
The maritime industry is not even on their radar, and it faces a major challenge in attracting young students because most young people are completely unaware of its existence and the opportunities it offers, both at sea and on shore. Nor do they realize that maritime careers provide good, satisfying and well-paying jobs for both men and women.
So it was with a great deal of anticipation that I attended the opening ceremonies on May 1 for the new “Sea the World” exhibit at the JA World Huizenga Center at Broward College in Coconut Creek. The Junior Achievement of South Florida and the Marine Industries Association of South Florida ceremonially launched the “Sea the World” exhibit, known as a “storefront,” which consists of nine walls representing engine room specialists, yachting professionals, shipyard trade workers and other areas like marina management, boat sales, and boatbuilding. The goal? Educate young people about maritime.
The exhibit is the brainchild of Christine Battles-Merhige, Chief Administrative Officer at Advanced Mechanical Enterprises, and Megan Lagasse, Marine Director of Pier Sixty-Six Marina, whose dedication made this noble concept a reality. More than 20 companies from the Marine Industries Association of South Florida donated about $130,000 for phase one of the project as well.
“It’s about ensuring that young people understand that there are good-paying jobs in the marine industry beyond more traditional careers,” noted Lisa Morley, Vice President of Maritime Professional Training, a major seafarer training center in South Florida.
Battles-Merhige adds: “As a small business owner, it’s really difficult to find skilled labor, which is why I am committed to the JA mission of letting young people know there are great opportunities in the local marine industry. Our JA storefront is a major step towards fulfilling this initiative.”
South Florida’s marine industry is a $12 billion/year economic engine that provides the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties with 142,000 jobs. “Our industry is a gold mine of opportunities for the next generation,” said Battles-Merhige. “I’ve made a personal commitment to inspire their interest in our field which will, in turn, maintain the maritime industry as a thriving economic force in the state.”
Each year, Junior Achievement programs help more than 20,000 eighth-grade students from Broward and South Palm Beach Counties learn about the importance of money and budgeting and how financial decisions made today will impact their lives and future earnings. To learn more about the “Sea the World” storefront and JA, go to www.JASouthFlorida.org.