NAMEPA’s Workforce Development Gathering and Workshop in Washington, D.C. Paves the Way for Maritime Industry Advancements

Washington, D.C.The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) successfully hosted its regional Workforce Development Gathering and Workshop in Washington, D.C., on May 23, coinciding with National Maritime Week. This pivotal event, held at ABS offices, united industry stakeholders to address the critical challenge of cultivating a prepared, skilled, and vibrant maritime workforce for the future.

The gathering featured insightful presentations from prominent figures in the maritime sector:

  • Kai Martin, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Pasha Group, discussed real-world challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified maritime personnel with an
    emphasis on mariner wellbeing.

  • Molly Dushay, Education & Outreach Director, NAMEPA, provided insights into how community engagement and greater K-12 involvement can support the maritime industry and bridge the gap between education and maritime careers.

  • Captain John Stauffer, Associate Vice Chancellor, San Jacinto College, shared the success of San Jacinto’s Maritime program and discussed ways to follow their success between industry, education, and community.

The workshop component of the event emphasized the necessity of collaboration between industry, educational institutions, and government agencies. Attendees participated in dynamic discussions and shared best practices to formulate a comprehensive action plan for addressing maritime workforce development challenges.



During the workshop, NAMEPA and maritime industry stakeholders completed a SWOT Analysis on core areas to further outline strategic action steps toward the creation of robust workforce development goals.

K-12 Engagement:

  • Strengths: Direct access to students; education stakeholders are student-centered and have established connections.
  • Weaknesses: Insufficient funds to support and implement pipeline programs; lack of sustained industry engagement beyond one-off experiences.
  • Opportunities: Mapping partnerships and formalizing exposure experiences; creating clear pathways for students interested in maritime careers.
  • Threats: Competition from other industries for student interest and resources.

Post-Secondary & Credentialing:

  • Strengths: Availability of quality training programs at various levels; existing successful career development models.
  • Weaknesses: Instructor shortages; need for more industry internships and high school engagement; resource constraints; outdated regulatory frameworks.
  • Opportunities: Expanding robust high school programs; formalizing pathways across the United States; aligning maritime training with other industries such as aviation.
  • Threats: Regulatory restrictions hindering continuing education and industry adaptation.

Maritime Sustainability:

  • Strengths: Strong Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices enhance mariner retention and improve company ratings.
  • Weaknesses: Limited mariner awareness of environmental impacts.
  • Opportunities: Inclusion of tribal groups and development of renewable energy initiatives related to maritime activities.
  • Threats: Regulatory challenges and potential resistance to ESG-related changes.


  • Credentialing Support: Establishing streamlined pathways and support systems to assist mariners in obtaining necessary credentials efficiently and effectively.
  • K-12 Engagement: Implementing robust programs to introduce K-12 students to maritime careers, fostering early interest and engagement.
  • Communications and Marketing: Enhancing efforts to market the maritime industry to future maritime leaders, highlighting the diverse and rewarding career opportunities it offers.
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Building a Future-Ready Maritime Workforce

The Washington D.C. gathering underscored several critical themes:

  • Attracting Young Talent: Developing strategies to attract young individuals to maritime careers, ensuring a steady influx of fresh talent.
  • Bridging the Skills Gap: Creating initiatives to bridge the skills gap and fostering a diverse talent pipeline.
  • Educational Collaboration: Strengthening the collaboration between industry, educational institutions, and government agencies to support comprehensive education and training programs.

Stakeholders will reconvene virtually at the end of June to discuss progress and outline the next steps.

Interested in being part of the solution? Reach out to Molly at

Working groups include:

  • K-12 Resources and Engagement
  • Post-Secondary & Credentialing
  • Maritime Sustainability

About NAMEPA Regions

NAMEPA’s regional initiatives are designed to amplify collaboration and awareness of the maritime industry and marine environment. These gatherings and workshops serve as bridges, connecting industry leaders, educators, and community members in a shared mission. NAMEPA aims to spark collaborative action on critical issues, including raising maritime awareness, combating marine debris, investing in workforce development, and engaging in public outreach.

Through deeper engagement, NAMEPA’s regional initiatives empower communities with best practices, educational materials, and access to expert networks, enabling them to address local challenges effectively. This holistic approach ensures that NAMEPA’s efforts resonate with regional needs while contributing to the broader goal of cultivating a skilled and environmentally conscious maritime workforce.

Molly Dushay
Regions Director, Education & Outreach Director
North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA)


The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) is a maritime industry-led organization of environmental stewards preserving the marine environment by promoting sustainable marine industry best practices and educating seafarers, students, and the public about the need and strategies for protecting global ocean, lake, and river resources. Visit us at:

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