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Attracting maritime lecturers requires more focus

Attracting maritime lecturers requires more focus

SAIMI prioritises the need for higher skills

SOUTH AFRICA: The need to recruit more highly qualified lecturers within the maritime education and training space was addressed as a priority by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in a webinar yesterday.

CEO of SAIMI, Odwa Mtati, emphasised the need to increase the number of maritime lecturers holding PhDs.

“Most of the universities at the moment are manned by lecturers who have a Masters. There are not many highly qualified lecturers at PhD levels. This is unlike Europe, Asia as well as the Americas,” he said.

This realisation follows a visit by a team from the International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU) during 2023 that included an assessment of the three main tertiary institutes providing training to seafarers.  

“So, the journey is for us to increase the number of lecturers with PhDs,” he said, explaining the need to strengthen local institutions and benchmark them internationally.

Mtati adds that a lecturer exchange programme has been established with the IAMU to help strengthen the training environment.

The ability to attract more highly qualified lecturers as well as those with significant sea time is, however, impacted by the availability of funds. Many of the local training facilities have identified the inability to match seagoing salaries as a deterrent.

It stands to reason, therefore, that the ability to attract and retain lecturers holding PhDs will similarly be thwarted by salary constraints.

Mtati acknowledged this difficulty. “If we are to attract those back into the education system, they will need to be paid adequately. Those that are at sea are being paid much more that what the education system can afford.”

He confirmed that SAIMI was seeking measures to get more funding in order to address this issue. The intervention applied by SAIMI to top up salaries within tertiary facilities seems to have come to an end making it more difficult for institutions to provide market-related renumeration.  

One member of the audience noted that this benefit was terminated more than three years ago and that this was having a direct impact on the ability to recruit as well as retain seafarers in the training environment.

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