A new scheme set up by the Polish government is aiming to boost cadet numbers at sea.
Working with the Polish Seafarers Trade Union Organization OMK, InterManager, the international trade association for the ship management industry, is inviting ship operators to participate in the program which guarantees 75% subsidies towards six-month contracts for 400 Polish cadets.
The cadet program is open to any shipmanagement company wishing to allocate sea berths to students studying at Polish maritime universities who have already spent six months at sea but require a further six months to complete their training and qualify as officers or engineers. The initial pilot program will be open to Polish cadets but InterManager hopes other seafaring countries will follow suit in the near future.
InterManager, together with OMK, will fully support the program, assist with the cadets’ employment, and communicate with the maritime university or a MLC approved shipping agency. Once cadets have completed their sea time and graduated as an officer or engineer, InterManager plans to encourage shipowners to offer them a full-time role with the company.
Announcing the initiative, Captain Kuba Szymanski, InterManager Secretary General, said, “InterManager has long held the view that tomorrow’s Captains and Chief Engineers are today’s cadets. In order to complete their maritime training, every seafarer has to serve 12 months at sea. This is what differentiates regular shore-based studies from maritime – we need 12 months of sea time where our people ‘get their hands deep in grease’ before being able to achieve their final certification.”
He explained, “Talking to many of our members, especially third party ship managers and crew managers, I realised that they might not have a separate budget for cadet salaries (as required by MLC) and therefore are unable to take ‘last trip cadets’ on board their managed ships.”
“Ship managers are only paid to manage ships and there is no budget for cadets unless it is specially negotiated with owners. Over the past 10 years we have seen this become an issue and it is now proving very difficult to negotiate as owners seem to be less and less interested in educating young people and instead expect ‘ready officers’. This program will give the vessel owners the incentive they need to take cadets onboard.”
Capt Szymanski added, “We hope this project will be a success and encourage other countries to follow with similar schemes.”
Launching this month, the scheme is open to InterManager members and global ship operators on a range of commercial vessels around the world. Ship managers must guarantee the number of sea berths they are providing for a six month period. In return they can claim a refund of up to €950 per cadet per month. Funding is available to support a maximum of 400 cadets.