Johannesburg - Transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele has called on the
government and industry to address a severe shortage of skilled maritime
"Our skills shortage is so severe. Some of our highly
skilled marine personnel are reaching retirement age, resulting in an
increasing dependence on expensive expatriate labour," he said at the
Seafarers' Merit Awards in Cape Town on Saturday.
"This problem has been looming for more than 16 years," he said.
"We call on the local shipping industry to inject more
resources into training and as government we must do more to promote
maritime training and the maritime industry in general," he said.
It was urgent that the government develop a policy that had incentives to attract young people to sea-faring professions.
"As a country, it is upon us to ascertain that those
hardworking individuals such as those receiving awards tonight remain in
the areas of their expertise so that we keep the sustainable momentum
at sea," said Ndebele.
He said the maritime industry was a key contributor to
South Africa's economic development and it had to "generate the skills
it requires over and above just sustaining itself".
Fishermen, salvors, merchant mariners, offshore
riggers, engineers, harbour pilots and rescue crew were among those
honoured at the awards.