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Seaworthy News – Maritime Education Provides an Important Gateway for Students to Work in the Shipping Industry

To an outsider, the maritime industry can often seem a daunting, foreign and rather archaic industry.  For students in maritime education programs, the maritime industry opens up to them after they graduate, and it is not foreign or daunting at all.   

While rare, it is possible for someone with no prior knowledge of shipping or ports to become involved in the business. As Congressman Elijah Cummings once said, “If they can’t see it, they can’t dream it.”  But receiving a maritime education as a graduate or undergraduate student can expand the breadth of knowledge necessary for success. It truly serves as an invaluable entry point for the maritime sector and its current environmental challenges.  Students at maritime academies are in a unique position to get exposure to the encouraging environmental and sustainability efforts ongoing in the global maritime industry. 

Concurrent with global concerns about climate change, maritime environmental industry topics include decarbonization by 2050.  The development of cleaner fuels and renewable energy sources to power vessels is a major industry development that will require input from the younger generations. Liquefied natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy sourceswind and solar energy will take on new importance for a generation of students confronting the ever-growing problem of climate change and its cascading effects. A new generation of maritime leaders that understand the importance of protecting the planet, coastlines, the environment and human lives will be essential in shaping the future of global shipping and maintaining the balance between conservation and commerce 

Maritime technology is also changing the way the industry operates efficiently and optimally. Weather forecasting, advanced GPS and AIS systems, port RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, and updated navigation tools are improving and changing the way shipping functions worldwide.  Digital technology will also play a crucial role in defining a new generation of maritime leaders. Students use their own devices for educational and personal use giving them insight into how much more efficient everything can be with the use of technology.  Weather and GPS tracking systems, navigation tools, future automation of vessels and RFID technology in seaports are some of the innovative technologies that are shaping the maritime industry for the next decade 

The shipping industry is currently engaging with major global concerns including climate change impacts, operational efficiency, and more.  Students can benefit the industry by bringing a new perspective to solving these problems.  Maritime students in a K-12 environment provided with a comprehensive education centered on clear pathways to the maritime profession with incorporation of a sound marine science foundation will help them become future leaders. These future leaders will become the resources our world needs to fight climate changeand roadblocks to the efficient modernization of shipping and transportation of goods around the world while safeguarding the marine environment 

Early exposure to maritime industry essentials will allow students to become acquainted with new technological and digital upgrades that will be necessary to combat climate change.  Whether it is learning to become a mariner onboard a ship, a vessel charterer, operator, or marine educator, students can only thrive if they are given the necessary tools to do so. Modern shipping will benefit because of a renewed interest in the profession, but only if we expand educational access to the maritime sector.  

A strong maritime education and marine science foundation provides insight into the kinds of solutions necessary for achieving greater climate goals including decarbonization and cleaner bunker fuel usage while conserving the ocean ecosystem. Shipowners, investors, port operators, insurers, suppliers, shipbuilders and global industry stakeholders will need a fresh perspective on how to address these problems.  

 Various maritime education programs in high schools and maritime academies provide students with access to maritime avenues across the country. Some high school programs expect that not all students will go to attend a university or maritime academy after they graduate.  There are vocational (CTE- Career and Technical Education) programs that will prepare them for jobs in the field without a bachelor’s degree, providing hands on experience in marine science or maritime commerce.  

A new generation of young leaders from maritime academies and programs, across the country and the world, will help to bridge the leadership gap on sustainability and environmental responsibility for the maritime industry.   

Nigel Pritchard

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