Seafarers are professional sea operatives, trained and equipped in the art and technology required in the best practice operation on international waters. The vibrant shipping industry in the Caribbean represents huge potential for job creation in the near, medium and long term, and is a veritable source of major revenues.
As Caribbean policy makers and stakeholders upgrade and reform the maritime industry, efforts must be redoubled to prepare an adequate labor force to meet local and international demand. Jamaica and the Bahamas share intermediacy with the Panama Canal, and there is extra pressure on both countries to address the additional demand for a cadre of maritime professionals in order to capitalize on the trade and business opportunities that will emanate from the expansion of the Canal.
WOMEN AND MARITIME
A key factor recognized as a barrier to development and growth in the Caribbean is gender inequality. Issues of individual productivity and income inequality stem, in part, from gaps in education which are the target of Caribbean policy makers as they address growth challenges. Still considered a non-traditional sector for women worldwide, the Caribbean maritime sector is seeing a significant increase of women enter the sector over the last decade resulting primarily from the efforts of the Caribbean Maritime University.
The establishment of Women in Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC) in 2015 was an important step. WiMAC is an invaluable partner of the Caribbean Maritime University–helping to forge catalytic partnerships to empower women around sharing expertise, advocacy and governance, mentoring and career development, achievement recognition, to name a few key objectives.
Hear from Rochelle
“I sell fruits and vegetables in a market to help pay my college tuition. Juggling college and the market is tough, but I’ve always dreamed of having a better life. —Ms. Rochelle Bell, Bachelor’s Degree—Customs Processes, Immigration & Freight Forward, Class 2019, Caribbean Maritime University.
Rochelle will graduate the CMU in 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Customs Processing, Immigration & Freight Forwarding. At twenty-seven years old, she has been selling in the local market since she was ten years old alongside her mother. Despite no real hope of attending college due to the cost, Rochelle never gave up on the hope that one day she’d have a career.
Through many years of working in the market, supplemented by baby-sitting and working as a domestic, she held on to the dream of being the first in her family to attend college. “College and a career is my only way out”, she says, “of a life of day-to-day struggle with no real future.”
One day, she accompanied her friend to the CMU to complete an application and decided to do her own application. It turned out that she received a call from the CMU (ironically, her friend did not). She remarked that it was a sign from God. At first, there was no scholarship money, so she and her mother eeked out the tuition money from what they earned at the market. Starting 2015, she received a partial scholarship accounting for a third of the tuition. However, she puts in at least twenty-five hours each week at the market in order to be able to afford the balance of the tuition and other expenses which take up eighty percent of the combined income of both her and her mother.
The CMU attracts many older students, many of them working parents.
Hear from Horatio
“The CMU is more than my college, the staff are my family. I have a future because of the CMU. —Horatio McLean, Bachelor’s Degree—Customs Processes, Immigration & Freight Forward, Class 2018, CMU.
Horatio will graduate the CMU in 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Customs Processing, Immigration & Freight Forwarding. A twenty-nine years old father, Horatio’s determination is nothing short of an inspiration. He has been living on his own since he was sixteen. He graduated high school barely passing and worked as a bartender.
Wanting more from his life for himself and his son, he went to night school and subsequently qualified for college. He took a job at a call center in Montego Bay, but stories about the wharf from his grandfather who had worked at the wharf in Montego Bay, haunted him. Horatio had developed a “passion” for maritime but still saw no way to get into the industry. He left the call center and turned to selling burgers on the road which was more lucrative. During that time, he met a gentleman with whom he shared his dreams. The person arranged for him to meet a CMU senior staff member and after completing the application and an interview at the CMU, Horatio was offered a four-year scholarship.
Horatio plans to get a Master’s. He thinks about his fellow students, many of whom struggle to afford college and like them, he believes maritime could be the hope for so many youth who are willing to work to achieve their dreams, but who just need an opportunity.