By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Instead of supplying pure manpower to ocean-going vessels, the Philippines has been urged to scale up its maritime capabilities by offering new programs and courses to young Filipinos who would like a career in the maritime industry.
Per Arne Waloen, senior surveyor at the Norwegian Maritime Authority, stressed this during the recent Maritime Forum 2019 on “Beyond the Horizon: Looking at the Future of Philippine Maritime Sector”.
“It is time to move up from being a labor supplier,” said Waloen noting there are new programs being developed for students for the maritime industry. These include maritime financing, port administration, customs insurance, international affairs, maritime law, research and development, and maritime administration, among others.
But the Norewegian maritime official also equally pushed for schools to come up with expertise to provide quality education for students in these new courses.
“The country needs it and the young generation deserves it,” he said.
Waloen, however, noted that Filipino seafarers’ salary is becoming more costly and there have been huge medical claims and compensations filed against shipowners. He attributed this to the strong labor union among seamen.
In fact, salaries of Filipino seafarers are more expensive than its peers in the region and in some European countries.
Most Norwegian shipping firms though still prefer to hire Filipino seafarers because of their very “nature” of being eager to learn and highly trainable, but Waloen said the high-salary cost and medical claims have become irritating to shipowners already.
“Shipowners want Filipino seafarers, but some are comparing costs,” he said.
Of the estimated 1.3 million seafarers in the world, Filipinos account for more than 350,000. Currently, there are also approximately 20,000 Filipinos on board Norwegian-owned ships.