An initiative aimed at equipping unemployed youth with skills and opportunities to secure jobs in the maritime industry was launched in the Eastern Cape yesterday.
The Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) was launched by Premier Phumulo Masualle, together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), with the hope of addressing the high unemployment rate in the province. The initiative, which operates under government’s Operation Phakisa, seeks to expose young people to job opportunities in the maritime industry.
The programme has targeted 150 unemployed Grade 12 participants, to equip them with basic competency skills to become seamen. All the participants, from Port St Johns, Ingquza Hill, Mbizana and Buffalo City Metro, were identified through a youth unemployment programme.
The launch started with a tour of South Africa’s ice-strengthened training ship and former polar research vessel the SA Agulhus, which was docked at the East London Harbour, before the event moved to the Velvet Lounge for formal talks.
Masualle said the programme has opened up a new world the province had not been focusing on.
“We have a coastline of more than 800km, and we are saying our people should be able to explore and exploit the opportunities available in the maritime sector,” Masualle said.
George Randell High School in East London and Ngwenyathi Senior Secondary in Mdantsane were the first schools in the Eastern Cape to launch maritime studies as a subject. Masualle said they were forging ahead with plans to expand the maritime schools project.
SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) chief operation officer Sobantu Tiyali said the country has more than 3000km of coastline and was ideally positioned to serve the cargo traffic and offshore oil and gas industries.
“If we look around us we will realise the importance of maritime, such as the shipping of cargo which contributes to our daily lives,” Tilayi said.
Tilayi added that the benefits of seafaring could be lucrative. “They don’t pay tax and get paid in dollars”.
One of the participants, Sinenjongo Manqinana from Port St Johns, said although he had a fear of the water, he hoped to work on a cruise-liner one day.
Another participant, Nosiphiwo Ndikoki from Duncan Village in East London, said the idea of becoming a marine excited her. After completing the training, they will be issued certificates and provided job opportunities in the maritime industry.