The Shipping industry has been a predominant player in the evolution of this modern society since decades, and with India being surrounded by water on three sides, it has always been a country with a rich maritime heritage. Over the years, India has been known to produce high-quality officers that serve in marine fleets all around the globe. This achievement can be credited mainly to the excellent maritime training institutes that have been established all around the country after independence. These training institutes have been responsible for churning out thousands of efficient and dynamic seafarers, of which many are at prominent positions in the industry. In the absence of such magnificent institutes, India would not be one of the largest maritime countries in the world, and Indian Seafarers would not be in high demand.
Essence of METIs
The central ethos of METIs is to produce Marine Engineers with the highest order of discipline, dedication, skill and knowledge. They pursue to instil all the essential values needed to create efficient marine engineers who will be floating ambassadors of both the institute and the country. They are also committed to the continuous development of their facilities and curriculum in line with the industry needs so that their students remain the most sought after marine engineers around the globe.
Role of METIs Prior to On-Board Training
The training institutes play a vital role in the development of a Marine Engineer and his expertise. They are responsible for providing their students with all the knowledge, skills and attitude required for them to become proficient engineers. They provide the students with knowledge on all the topics and subjects as stated by the governing body, which is DG Shipping in the case of India. Institutes also play a vital role in imparting the technical skills required to manage the vast number of machinery on board. They are also responsible for conducting the additional courses like Basic Safety Training and STSDSD required for a marine engineer to obtain their degree and their continuous discharge certificate. Some of the institutes also go the extra mile to provide their cadets with additional skills like welding. These institutes also offer the students an opportunity to work on their unique skills like sports, entertainment and research through various clubs, competitions and paper presentations. In addition to all this, the institutes also promote holistic development by inculcating the spirit of leadership, integrity, courage and curiosity in their students.
Role of METIs after On-Board Training
Shipping is an industry where constant development is necessary. Marine Engineers are expected to undergo this continual development in order to advance in ranks and keep themselves up to date with the emerging technology. The METIs conduct these competency enhancement courses like Tanker Safety, High Voltage, simulator and Hydraulic courses, required for the MEO class exams. They also conduct modular courses like BST and STSDSD to provide the engineers with an opportunity to update their certificate validity.
Current Prevailing Loopholes in METIs Training
Although METIs are vital for creating efficient Marine Engineers, there are several loopholes in their training methods. The biggest and the most serious loophole is the gap between the theoretical and practical training provided to the students. The cadets undergo extensive training on the theoretical side and are introduced to the working of the machinery present on board, but they are not given an opportunity to get hands-on experience of operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting these machinery. The cadets also find themselves not experiencing life on board during their training, preventing them from knowing what to expect when they go on board. Another huge loophole is that the institutes follow a conservative curriculum due to which the marine engineers will have an issue in working in other fields and also finding work in the maritime industry with the recent developments in the industry like automation.
How to settle the faults in METIs?
In recent times the demand for Indian Marine Engineers has been dropping due to stiff competition from countries like the Philippines and Bangladesh. In order to produce efficient and prominent seafarers, we have to fix the loopholes mentioned above. One change which is a need of the hour is the increase in practical training given to the students. The students should be allowed to operate the machinery and gain practical, operational and overhauling knowledge about them. This will help them gain knowledge about the best operating and maintenance practices and increase their overall confidence. Another attractive idea is providing students with visits to the ship to learn about the daily operations and life on board. The students can also be provided with guidance on opportunities for marine engineers onshore and additional courses on automation and digitalization in order to help them ride out the wave of technological innovation which threatens to put the marine engineers out of jobs.