Over 90% of the global trade is carried by the international shipping industry. Shipping is the backbone of global trade and without shipping, importing and exporting goods would not be possible. The future sustainability of the shipping industry independent on the availability of a pool of capable and effective trainees. On board Training (OBT) is a vital link between shore-based training and certificate of competency. Whether a trainee will become a prospective officer is totally dependent on OBT the individual receives. On board training is an opportunity that will eventually align the theoretical knowledge along with practical day to day shipping operations. The STCW Convention in 1978, contains requirements and guidance regarding Onboard training.
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Role played by the companies on board training
- Companies should structure the programme of training that should be set out in a training plan which clearly expresses the duties and objectives of a trainee. And the trainee should be provided with a training record book to enable a comprehensive record of practical training experience.
- The prospective officer should be aware of the trainees who are on board and should be responsible for the management of the programme on on board training . Master who is in the ultimate authority on board will keep a watch on the trainee cadets.
- Cadets should be given access to CBT facilities as well as VOD. All the study materials should be regularly updated and cadets funding must be provided by the company to buy the study materials.
- Responsible shipowners, ship operators and industry associations must accept the need for on board training for trainees to secure a good future for the maritime industry. The primary goal must be to ensure that prospective officers can competently carry out all the duties on board ship in a safe, secure, efficient manner.
- The waiting period prior to joining for the first time needs to be reduced. A prolonged break between leaving the training institute and joining the first vessel as a cadet leads to the trainee getting rusty which leads to overall drop to quality of training.
How a company analyze whether the seafarer is gain for them?
What is a seafarer’s job and what skills and personality traits should an individual possess if he/she is thinking about a career in the sea? It’s a good question- It will probably come as no surprise that anyone thinking about working in seafarer jobs will need to have a strong work ethic, tenacity, punctuality, people skills, courage and diligence. They are highly desirable attributes and skills which many industries want, however in the maritime industry these are virtual necessities.
The points to be evaluated as a seafarer are: –
- The very nature of shipping is to live and work in an enclosed space, long weeks and months spent at sea and to get along with people who belong from different culture, background, languages all require communication. Communication is the key to successful work onboard a ship.
- A seafarer should be comfortable with being away from family or partner/ spouse for months at a time. The individual has to cope potentially being away for special occasions or holidays.
- Soft skills and hard skills of an individual play an important role in the marine industry. Soft skills such as critical thinking, sound judgement, decision making, problem-solving and time management are of extreme values. As well as hard skills are the things which an individual will learn onboard and will become stronger day by day as he/she continues in the maritime industry.
- Possessing physical strength is also a huge asset in this industry due to obvious reasons. There might be a skill that might not be relevant but will make an individual popular- such as being able to speak a foreign language. As there are multinational crew on board so communicating with them in their language would make an individual more sociable onboard.
- Another genuine potential skill which a company would like from a trainee is to have an urge to always learn. If an individual has got these skills he/she will surely survive the marine industry workload.
Is there transparency between seafarer and company in on board training (OBT)? How can it be improved?
To identify gaps in on board training, a comprehensive study about the effectiveness of OBT became imperative, and thus some actions were launched. The questions were framed so that the trainee cadets could recall their overall experience with respect to meeting the minimum standards in on board training as mentioned in regulation II/1 and III/1 of the STCW convention. About 66% of cadets had their OBT with the multinational crew using different working languages and onboard different vessel type. It is the very beginning of real sea life and the core of shaping the trainee cadets into a ship’s officer, which is why transparency between the cadets and the company in their OBT is of utmost importance. This on board training should effectively transform newcomers with the help of company personnel from theoretician to competent ship’s officer; and in the end, it forms an attractiveness towards the profession and the maritime industry, also builds respect from the cadets towards the company.
There are ways in which we can improve on board training, here are some positive- points suggested by cadets and the graphs:-
- There is an urgent need for assistance to hire oneself as a trainee.
- TRB is to be regularly updated.
- The organization of OBT needs commitment from the top company managers.
- Cadet has to aware of details of the OBT agreement of the university with the company.
- Not all the company are ready to intake cadets for OBT.
- Cadets should be given more time to focus on training and should be given proper guidance.
- Companies and ships not meeting requirements should be penalized and arrested.
- The motivation of officers on board should not lack.
- Provide qualified officers for the training of cadets.
- Conduct more CBT training onboard.
Questionnaire for seafarers about portrayal of companies in OBT with their response.
- Cadets were asked to assess the quality of their last or most recent OBT. It was a general question and here is the feedback: –
- Facilities and accommodation is a big part on board so they were asked about the quality of facilities and accommodation and here is the feedback: –
- Safety is a major issue at sea and the protection of the environment is in the hands of ship personnel: –
- Access to the engine room and bridge is very much important to cadets so here is graph of whether the chances were given or not: –
- And at last, the cadets were asked was the OBT carried out effectively?
Over 67% of the feedback received from the respondents on their OBT were positive and their on-board training was well-monitored despite their personal workload. On the onboard ship, they got free access to the bridge and engine room to get trained and become a future officer. Although the respondents confirmed that there was a training officer to supervise them in their OBT but the assistance from the Master and Chief Engineer was not very encouraging. The routine shipboard operations were being observed in OBT according to the respondents. Most of the trainees from deck and as well as engine happens to be a competent officer on the type of ship on which their OBT was done be it a tanker, bulk or a cargo ship. Furthermore, it is seen that the trainees were able to cooperate with the multi-cultural environment. Although the official language was English, the trainees got to mix with the multinational crew and they held their bond and respect for each other until their sign off.