A joint initiative between government, private sector companies and non-governmental organizations to not only skill but create job opportunities in the maritime economic sector will pay off for 96 Eastern Cape youths this week, when they are officially sent off to join tourism cruise vessels sailing across the world.
This follows on the heels of the launch of the Eastern Cape Maritime Youth Development Program by Premier Phumulo Masualle at the Port of East London five weeks ago.
The 96 youths out of a total 128 that recently completed specialized training in basic marine skills over the last two months, are to join MSC Cruises vessels in different parts of the globe.
A ceremony to wish them well in their new venture into the maritime world will be held tomorrow in the Eastern Cape sea-side town of Port St Johns, on the spectacular Wild Coast region of the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban.
The joint partners in the initiative include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, and Harambee.
More than half the youths due for send-off on Wednesday – some for their first jobs ever – are from the O.R Tambo District Municipality, and precisely Port St Johns; an area that is targeted this current year for a series of maritime sector related projects, primarily by SAMSA, for both maritime awareness and associated youth skills development and local community social upliftment programs.
According to SAMSA, the successful placement of the 96 youths on cruise tourism vessels worldwide is a major achievement as it exceeds an original target of 50 youths originally planned for the first send-off on September 1.
“We are pleased that the EC project has been a resounding success. We completed the entire preparation process at the end of last week with MSC interviewing the final 128 candidates that successfully completed the training program.
“MSC Cruises has agreed to place 96 candidates in this year’s intake that starts from 1 September. This number far exceeds the initially agreed target of 50, which was our Service Level Agreement with the client, the Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape. This means we exceeded our target by 80% or we had an 180% achievement,” said SAMSA Programme Manager for Operation Phakisa initiatives (Marine Transport and Manufacturing Delivery Unit), Mr Sizwe Nkukwana.
Nkukwana along with some senior SAMSA management headed by Chief Operating Officer (COO), Sobantu Tilayi will join Eastern Cape Premier, Hon. Phumulo Masaulle – MPL, Eastern Cape provincial government officials, local traditional leadership, officials of the O.R Tambo District Municipality at the send-off ceremony tomorrow, which will characterized by a colourful display of AmaPondo cultural activities including dance.
‘’The time to work with young people, to alter positively their future prospects and fortunes is now. As an entry point it is good that these young people are getting this kind of exposure and opportunity, to actually work on cruise liners to gain that international outlook and experience.
“It is also important that we do not position to only take up the lower layers level jobs in the sector, but we must move to empower these young people to go on to captain these ships, to be the engineers and ports officials and so, in essence, we must strive to penetrate all sectors including scarce skills in the maritime space’’, says Premier Masualle.
The event to be held at Port St Johns 2nd Beach and will be beamed live on SABC radio and television.