A newly launched digital platform is enhancing employment prospects for graduates from four maritime training institutions in the Caribbean. This initiative by the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (ACMF) takes place as the maritime industry seeks to recover from the far-reaching effects of the COVID 19 pandemic and manoeuvre around further disruptions in the global supply chain occasioned by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
There are fears in the industry that the current global challenges could exacerbate a chronic labour shortage of maritime workers especially at the officer level. In developing the Caribbean Maritime Career Exchange (CAREX) platform, however, the ACMF sees industry leaders’ warning of increased difficulty in hiring workers as presenting opportunities to be seized by maritime graduands in the Region.
The new ‘jobs board’ www.ACMF-CAREX.org provides a vibrant virtual meeting place for prospective employees and employers, allowing signed-in companies to create a profile, post new job offers, search for and contact candidates. Prospective employees visiting the website can upload resumes, browse and apply for jobs in a wide spectrum of categories including technology, logistics, engineering, navigation, hospitality and administration.
The facility is open to graduates of the American Caribbean Maritime
“This is indicative of our clear focus on having the young people of our Region positioned to take advantage of the projected shortage of some 90,000 mariners and officers by 2026,” says Dr Geneive Brown Metzger, President and Founder of the ACMF.
Established donors to the ACMF are expected to be among the most active on the ACMF-CAREX platform. These include Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Arawak Port Development, Nassau Cruise Port, Seacor, Tropical Shipping and TOTE Maritime, among others.
Established in 2016, the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation provides scholarships and grants as well as underwrites sea time for its scholars to prepare them to work in the maritime industry. Its activities extend to infrastructural development at institutions with which it partners and include funding classrooms, providing essential equipment and opportunities for mentoring.
Shipping, including by extension the logistics and supply chain industry, is critical to the Region. The Caribbean Sea with its intensive maritime traffic is one of the principal waterways for global trade. The Caribbean also plays a significant role in cruise ship tourism, the Region accounting for over one third of global cruise line deployment prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ACMF’s mission is informed by the potential of the maritime industry to substantially contribute to providing jobs as a basis for economic growth and poverty reduction in the Region.
The ACMF points to the sheer magnitude and significance of the maritime industry having been brought even more strikingly to the fore over the months of the COVID 19 pandemic. Talk of disruption and bottlenecks in the global supply chain became commonplace with pandemic related lockdowns, border closures, logistical challenges and shortages of equipment and containers. Consumers and retailers have been painfully aware of issues of availability and escalating prices.
There was also heightened focus on the level of dependency on cruise shipping for the Region with the crippling of the industry prior to the US-based ships resuming service in the summer of 2021 with strict protocols and altered itineraries.
POSITIONING FOR RECOVERY
Toward the end of 2021, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) made the welcome prediction of annual growth of 2.4% in maritime trade between 2022 and 2026, albeit slowing compared to 2.9% over the past two decades. Global shocks, however, UNCTAD states, threaten the gains made towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the path to sustainable development.
Nonetheless, the ACMF emphasizes the timeliness of its ACMF-CAREX launch as the maritime industry looks to post-COVID recovery, and beyond the complex consequences on its operations of the war in Europe. “Given the industry’s strong roots in, and well catalogued potential for Regional expansion we are focused on positioning for a resurgent maritime industry and more aggressively facilitating the placement of maritime graduates,” Brown Metzger says.
The Caribbean, Jamaica and the Bahamas in particular, has been alert to the opportunities for growth attending the expansion of the Panama Canal, Brown Metzger continues. “The advantages of our geographical location, the ascendancy of hub and spoke network in global liner shipping and the Region’s significant role in cruise ship tourism all demand our responding strongly to the need for maritime professionals as trade and business opportunities reopen in the post-COVID era.”
Strong support for the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation/Caribbean Maritime Career Exchange has been expressed by such donors to the Foundation as Roland Malins-Smith, former President of Seafreight Lines. “As a retired ship operator and being from the Caribbean myself, I know firsthand how critical it is to have this type of support for our young aspiring maritime professionals,” he says. “They are well-trained and deserve an opportunity.”
The ACMF anticipates increasing numbers of cruise and cargo companies partnering with the Foundation and the Region’s marine educational institutions to provide opportunities for Caribbean marine graduates, emphasizing the appropriateness of such graduates building their careers aboard the ships that use Regional ports and playing their part in the growth and development of the Caribbean.
Telephone: 876 806 1124
Geneive Brown Metzger, LLD Hon
Phone: 561 757 6881
About the ACMF
The American Caribbean Maritime Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation committed to alleviating poverty and transforming through maritime education and community development. The ACMF currently supports seventy-one scholarship recipients and grantees from Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Guyana, The Bahamas, and Dominica. The Foundation funded a lecture theater in the name of one of its donors, Roland Malins-Smith. The focus is also on women in the maritime sector through a mentorship and leadership program. The Foundation hosts the annual Anchor Awards honoring leaders in the maritime industry who have made significant contributions to the development of the maritime sector in the Caribbean. The ACMF receives no government funding and is entirely supported by private donations from corporate sponsors and individuals, including Royal Caribbean International, Tropical Shipping, Nassau Cruise Port, MSC Cruises, Saltchuk Logistics, TOTE Marine, DP World/Integra Marine, to name a few. To date, the ACMF has awarded almost three quarters of a million USD to fund its scholars and grantees. The organization was founded by Dr. Geneive Brown Metzger, who served as Jamaica’s eighth Consul General in New York.
To learn more about the ACMF, please visit acmfdn.org/about.
We can’t thank everyone enough for your support.