Filipino seafarers are becoming more expensive in terms of compensation at a time when the Philippine schools fall short on on-board training.
Per-Arne Waloen, senior surveyor of the Norwegian Maritime Authority, said the Philippines remains an attractive source of seafarers but salaries are “going up, medical claims and compensation are getting high which is irritating (ship) owners, making the situation uncertain.”
Waloen said in an interview on the sidelines of the Maritime Forum 2019 in Pasay City Norwegian companies remain positive about Filipino seafarers because they are “good to work with, easy to learn and train.
“Business have to look at the costs and threats to business. I’m hearing (shipowners are) comparing costs… that Europeans are even cheaper,” Waloen added.
He said labor unions are able to negotiate good compensation for Filipino seafarers.
He added the education and training of Filipino seafarers are “not the best” but they deliver quality work once employed and trained.
When asked if the Philippines can pass the upcoming industry review of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Waloen said :”We have to be positive of passing… but cautiously. There are many programs being developed… we don’t know if these will be finished… they are good programs but they need more time.”
The EMSA review is set February 24 to March 13 next year.
Waloen said government should focus on the work that needs to be done. “Schools have to comply with standards… seafarers need to comply. Fraud has to stop (because that is) not creating confidence… The training systems that are being put in place limit possibility for fraud,” Waloen said.
Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson Jr., officer-in-charge of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), is confident of passing the audit because “we have addressed the findings…
Marina, CHED (Commission on Higher Education) and the DOH (Department of Health) have harmonized standards to produce world-class seafarers in terms of education, training and fitness to work and experience…”
Vingson said the standardized curriculum will be implemented for school year 2020-21.
These cover faculty, facility and curriculum as well as program of instruction.
Marina is conducting the evaluation and inspection of the 90 schools to ensure compliance in terms of faculty, equipment and training. Those which fail to meet the new standards will be closed down.
But Vingson admitted Filipino seafarer-students are short on training on board. After three years of classroom instruction, students have to undergo one year of on-board training .
“Apprenticeship should be part of the curriculum. Students of schools with foreign partners are able to get on-board training but domestically, slots are very limited,” Vingson said.
The results of the evaluation will be released this month.