PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO — Caribbean nations must utilize a global shortage in seafarers as an opportunity to boost the amount of regional workers in the field, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young has asserted.
During a Maritime Link-up Webinar 2021, aimed at “Connecting Caribbean Youth with Job Opportunities in the Blue Economy”, the minister said that despite the Caribbean carrying heavy traffic for global trade, “the region is grossly underrepresented with respect to personnel employed in the maritime sector”.
“With projected expansions in seaborne trade, the merchant fleet is projected to exceed 79,000 ships by 2025, which will in turn require increased manpower,” Young outlined.
“It is estimated that there will be a need for an additional 89,510 officers by 2026 to operate the world merchant fleet. Therefore, the industry must significantly increase training and recruitment levels if it is to avoid a serious shortage in the total supply of officers by 2025.
“This is an opportunity for us in the region and we must not miss out. Increased collaboration between the industry and training institutions is required to address the manpower shortage, and to provide trained personnel with the skill sets required by the industry.”
Those skill sets are “continuously evolving with the introduction of revolutionary technology”, giving training institutions an opportunity to “expand and adapt their programmes to meet the growing and technology-driven needs of the maritime industry”, Young noted.
The minister also highlighted that an anticipated uptick in development of the energy sector could translate into even higher demand for maritime jobs, as “for Trinidad and Tobago, maritime services play a critical role in supporting our offshore energy sector”.
“As the development of the hydrocarbon industries of countries such as Guyana and Suriname picks up, it is expected that the demand for a range of maritime services will follow suit,” he added.
Enhanced development of Trinidad and Tobago’s energy sector, which accounts for an estimated 34 percent of GDP, could be on the horizon as Young also recently met with High Commissioner for Canada Kumar Gupta to discuss energy-related matters, with Gupta “noting potential in Trinidad and Tobago’s energy sector for its development”.
To this end, Young expressed his intention to prioritize the maritime sector as the beneficiary of funds set aside for training and provided by energy sector companies as part of their contractual obligations.