Investing in the future of maritime training
Engineering workshop boosted with acquisition of new equipment
SOUTH AFRICA: Now with six centres in South Africa, Sea Safety Training Group (SSTG) is continuing to invest in equipment to meet the training needs of those interested in pursuing a career at sea, having taken delivery of lathes and milling machines for a new workshop course at their Milnerton facilities in Cape Town.
According to Leon Mouton, founder and CEO of SSTG, this investment will allow the centre to offer a full spectrum of STCW modules including the latest three: milling and machining, diesel engineering and electrical engineering. SSTG has been offering diesel, hydraulics, pneumatics, sheetmetal and pipe, welding for the past four years.
According to Mouton, the decision to seek accreditation for these additional modules means that SSTG can provide qualifications to the fishing industry that comply with the upcoming STCW-F requirements. “Everybody accepts that STCW-F is going to come into force, and it is already part of our own legislation,” he says adding that they have engaged with the local fishing industry to establish the need.
In addition, once in force, it is likely that fishing companies from the continent may well elect to send their crew to South Africa for the necessary training.
“There is an urgent need for this training and the industry has committed to collectively filling a class,” he continues explaining that as soon as the engineers on board a fishing vessel go over 1,000kW they are required to complete further academic and workshop training.
With similar requirements for the engineering foreign-going seafarers, Mouton says it made sense to renew their engineering officers of the watch accreditation.
Currently the only option for these seafarers is to undertake a three-year degree programme which Mouton says is not always an ideal solution – especially for the fishing industry.
“It’s still going to be challenging,” he admits explaining that the academic portion is likely to take a year with the workshop training an additional six months. In addition, candidates will have had to first complete courses such as thermodynamics and electrodynamics at a TVET college before entering the engineering officers of the watch programme where they will be introduced to the maritime-related courses.
Describing his interaction with some of their learners, Mouton is motivated to offer qualifications at SSTG that will ultimately assist graduates find gainful employment. Their courses and qualifications are designed to allow numerous exit points and options. “In this way, if a learner is unable to finish one particular qualification, there is always another option that will allow them to graduate with the skills to enter into the workforce,” he says.
This has been a driving ambition of his throughout the SSTG ten-year journey and he is proud to talk about some of the successes they have had over the years.
Hout Bay collaboration
The company also initiated a collaborative training effort with Oceana in Hout Bay where they provide the fishing company with a number of accredited courses to fulfil their training needs, but are also open to outside admissions for STCW Basic Training.
Operating out of Oceana facilities at the small harbour since April this year, SSTG runs a variety of training including basic and advanced firefighting for which they have just received accreditation.
Having achieved significant gains over the last decade, Mouton is keen to see the training company continue to expand and invest. Cognisant of the changing needs of the various maritime sectors, he has already mapped out an ambitious future over the short to medium term.
Investment in a fully enclosed lifeboat and fast rescue boat is one of the more imminent investments they plan to make. “We are currently deciding where to set up this training,” he says acknowledging that the location needs to make sense for clients.
Longer term plans highlight SSTG’s focus on delivering relevant training that aims to meet the needs of not only seafarers, but the maritime sectors in South Africa as a whole.