New initiative set to create job opportunities for seafarers

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga has announced a new initiative aimed at enhancing maritime employment opportunities for South African seafarers.

“This program is not just about creating job opportunities; it is about nurturing a skilled workforce that will competently navigate the challenges and opportunities of the modern maritime world,” Chikunga said on Tuesday in Cape Town.

The Minister said the Seafarer Employment and Development Programme (SEDP) will be launched in the first quarter of the new financial year.

It will provide training, mentorship, and job placement assistance to qualifying Seafarers and will serve as an international collaborative maritime research centre to address the ever-evolving needs of the maritime industry.

“This programme will play a crucial role in bolstering the employability of our seafarers and providing our seafarers with the necessary skills and expertise to excel globally. It is an initiative that underlines our commitment to not only foster growth within the maritime sector, but also contribute significantly to our national economy,” Chikunga said.

In February, the Department of Transport will be convening with industry stakeholders to discuss the workings of the SEDP.

“This gathering will be an opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue, share insights, and collaboratively shape a programme that is robust, sustainable, and aligned with the industry's evolving needs,” the Minister said.

She made these remarks during the handover of the SA Agulhas, a former research vessel, which served as a critical asset in maritime education, training, and polar research.

“I am happy to confirm that with this handover, we have a firm commitment from our German Counterparts and JS Maritime represented by Captain Stefan Bulow, who will be the new owners that our aspirations for seafarer employment creation will be realised.

“The handover of the SA Agulhas is thus a strategic move on our part, ensuring that this historic vessel continues to contribute significantly under new stewardship while aligning with our national interests.”

She said the handover marked not just a transition of ownership but symbolises government’s enduring commitment to maritime excellence and innovation driven by strategic partnerships.

“As we turn this page, we are not merely looking back at her glorious past but are firmly focused on the future she heralds – a future where South Africa continues to assert its presence on the global maritime stage.

“When I got a briefing from SAMSA [South African Maritime Safety Authority​] on the intended future use for the vessel, and upon learning that the vessel will continue as a platform to further the research agenda that informs the future of our planet, I was made proud once more about my association with the SA Aghulus,” the Minister said. –