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AEMA places over 750 cadets as trainees on cargo ships annually: Vineet Gupta

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], May 24: The unemployment amongst entry level jobs in the Indian seafaring sector is a major cause of concern presently for the Indian maritime industry according to Vineet Gupta, managing director of Anglo Eastern Ship Management India, the Indian subsidiary of Hong-Kong headquartered Anglo Eastern Group – one of the largest employers of Indian seafarers.

“Merchant Navy has always been a lucrative career amongst Indian youth due to benefits like high salaries, tax exemption sops, etc.  The demand for highly trained and skilled Indian seafarers is rising globally but the supply is still restricted. The Government of India is setting targets to increase the global share of skilled Indian seafarers. Unfortunately, the maritime recruitment companies operating in India want only trained and experienced seafarers, and only very few companies invest in trainees or entry level seafarers,” said Gupta.

It is mandatory for an entry level Indian seafarer who is a pass out from a recognized pre-sea maritime training institute to undergo an apprenticeship or on-the-job training aboard a cargo ship as a trainee. A trainee or an engine cadet who intends to serve merchant navy as a marine engineer needs to undergo an apprenticeship for at least 6 months compulsorily. In case of a trainee or a deck cadet who intends to serve the merchant navy as a navigational officer or a captain, the stipulated apprenticeship duration varies from 12 to 18 months. Apprenticeship is a shipboard training program which is a planned and structured program of training designed to assist a prospective seafarer candidate to achieve the standard of competence under ‘International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers’ benchmark set by International Maritime Organization – a specialized agency of the United Nations.

An Indian seafarer absorbed to work aboard a cargo vessel as a trainee under an on-board training slot usually gets a tax free remuneration or stipend in the range of 500 to 600 US dollars a month. It is estimated that the total cost of placing one such apprentice on a cargo vessel by the shipping company is currently around 12, 00 to 15,00 US dollars a month including the stipend amount. Such trainees or entry level seafarers get recruited or deputed on-board Indian and foreign flag cargo ships under an apprenticeship programme subject to the availability of ‘on board training berths’ or trainee placement slots aboard cargo vessels.

Unfortunately, there exists no global maritime regulation or any Sovereign Law in any country that mandates a shipping company or a maritime enterprise to make available the ‘on board training berths’ aboard cargo vessels in huge numbers for the benefit of seafaring population.   

It is estimated that about 5,000-5,500, entry level Indian seafarers get placed as trainees every year aboard Indian and foreign flag vessels. However, the annual demand for such ‘on board training berths’ for Indian seafarers is almost double considering the huge churn out of trainees or pass outs of deck and engine cadets from various maritime training institutes operating in India.

The Indian maritime industry is thus grappling with the demand supply disparity of on-board training berths for Indian seafarers to address the pressing issue of unemployment in the sector.

 “Maritime training institutes operating can easily increase the number of trainee seafarers, but can all of them be accommodated on-board ships? It remains a huge challenge for the Indian maritime industry. This causes unemployment for trained youth and leaves possibilities for unscrupulous activities. The Government of India should act and control this mismatch by finding avenues to create more training berths on-board ships and also not allow maritime training institutes to churn out trainee seafarers uncontrolled due to commercial interests.” added Vineet Gupta.

Gupta said that Anglo-Eastern Group’s India-based Anglo Eastern Maritime Academy (AEMA) guarantees placement to all pass outs on ‘on board training berths’. The academy places over 750 deck and engine cadets of Indian nationality as trainees on cargo vessels every year and thereafter, assures employment to them subject to performance results.   

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