Cadet training deficit

Much as Greek shipping has contributed to the country’s economy, becoming the main source of foreign currency for Greece ahead of tourism, and while the number of ships owned by Greeks is increasing, making Greece the No. 1 shipping force in the world, the people manning those ships are increasingly foreign. The merchant marine labor market is particularly globalized and perfectly organized, while «crew-exporting» countries, such as the Philippines, those of Eastern Europe and India, are constantly raising the numbers and quality of seamen on offer, so the seafarers hired by Greek shipowners could never be exclusively Greek to cover all the needs of our oversized shipping market. Nevertheless, a minimum of 50 percent of Greek officers should be the basic condition, protecting the «Greekness» of the industry. The current system that produces officers (the Merchant Marine academies) creates graduates of which only 30 percent actually go into a career in shipping. The system has been formed according to the interests and the preferences of the tutors’ collective; it is spendthrift, time-consuming (cadets train for four years) and ineffective. About 1,000 officers per year have retired over the past decade and have been replaced by only about 300 new ones. Naturally, Greek officers have become a threatened species, as the EU generally says about European officers in the merchant navy. And yet other countries are tackling the issue by opening alternative entry gates to the profession, with similar career development procedures. Norway, with a population of just 4.5 million, controls some 9 percent of the world’s tonnage (dwt) and holds 80,000 jobs in the maritime sector; it also has two strong Protection and Indemnity (P&I) clubs and a serious hull and machinery (H&M) insurance market. But, above all, it has a serious shipping policy. About 80 young people each year enter university-level naval education and 400 professional education. The former seek jobs on shore, with 60 percent of them finding employment, while 90 percent of the latter graduates follow a naval career. High dropout rate Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis ought to first ask his agencies (the Seafarers Education Directorate and the Naval Register Agency) how much the graduate dropout rate was when naval education was professional (a 10 percent rate) and how much it is now with the various «upgrades» to university level (at 60 percent), before deciding on the future of naval education. Those upgrades have been nothing more than union demands that were satisfied under the state of union Marxism, against the interests of shipping. In the two decades of Socialist rule, shipping was trapped in a labyrinth of union practices and mentalities where the state had a deciding intervention. Therefore, both naval education and the Seamen’s Pension Fund (NAT) have now gone bankrupt. Those who persistently sing the praises of naval education, calling for greater «modernization» and a further «upgrade,» are themselves the authors of education material, but have never actually cared for the modernization of the curriculum and their own work. Here is an example: The approved text titled «Shipping,» more than 1,000 pages long, devotes as many as 160 pages to the description of naval maps and magnetic compasses but says nothing about modern electronic maps and satellite shipping applications. The situation in the engineers’ school is even worse. All this has been known for years by the competent authorities at the Merchant Marine Ministry. The minister may know it, too. The sector suggests that having university graduates by law signifies its maintenance of a monopoly. What will happen in a few years, however, when there are no more students left in the «academies»?

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.