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Upward mobility in maritime training and education

Upward mobility in maritime training and education
Yashika F. Torib June 3, 2020

In a world where man is measured by his titles, accomplishments, connections and wealth, a few stood certain that their ultimate measure lies not in the long list of achievements but in the depth of passion on which their actions are anchored.

For Bayani Almacen, an international education and training specialist and motivational speaker, passion weighs heavy among the other virtues of a trainer. As a renowned personality in Philippine maritime education and training and with all major credentials under his belt, the man, rather than look for external motivation, delved within to find something he was passionate about bringing the best of what the world has to offer in terms of training to Filipino seafarers.

Almacen has traveled the world, captivated by the new learnings and modes of teaching from continents far and wide. The desire to learn, however, was not merely for himself; thus, sprung his mission to bring the world to the Philippines.
Whether in Asia, Africa, Europe or the United States, his charge remained the same. “I wanted to bring back my learnings in training, research and development from these countries and share them with Filipinos. It could help improve their lives and make a positive difference, especially to the people in seafaring industry,” he said.

But of all the sectors, one would ask why Almacen chose to serve the sea-based Filipino workers. He shared that “being a part of the Naval Training Command in a school division in Cavite and an eventual appointment as a maritime assessor for steward and catering in the Technological Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)” were the turning point of his career. His fascination for the industry turned to awe and respect upon learning how the Filipino seafarers contribute to the local and global economy by being part of a global supply chain that is moved primarily by ships.

“The Philippines is one of the major suppliers of seafarers in the international trade, owing to the dedication, commitment and love for work of the Filipinos. They are in the frontline of contributing to the country’s economy through dollar remittances. The quality of lives is improved for every family where there is a seafarer, no matter how far removed.
“Nonetheless, their employment is threatened by the increasing competition in the international labor force; Indonesia, Vietnam, India and China are on the rise. Add to that the shared sentiments of our mariners that their needs and concerns are not well-attended by the government and private sector. There are the ever-changing and conflicting implementing procedures, policies and guidelines on the Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) and deployment processes, as well as health and mental issues,” he explained.

Recognizing these challenges faced by the seafarers, Almacen delved deep in mentoring and coaching individuals and corporate organizations. He’s become the go-to person for manpower training and development for various sectors with focus on soft skills, behavioral development and survival skills and coping mechanisms for being away from home.
He has seen how, when people talk about maritime training, conversations typically course through the technicalities of the profession. Soft skills, emotional development and other factors that take into consideration the “human side” of seafaring were rarely focused upon.

As the global maritime industry struggles to get its bearing through the onslaught of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Almacen looked deeper and found that Filipino seafarers are no longer concerned about the employment competition with seafaring nations in Asia. He found out that many are already considering completely changing their careers.

“Knowing that there’s already a significant decrease in the number of ships treading the international waters, our seafarers have accepted the uncertainty and threat of a lost job. Some are now thinking of leaving the seafaring career and engage in a sustainable business back home with their families,” he observed.
The trainer in Almacen refused to give up, however. He fought to keep the momentum and ardent desire of the seafarers to stay in the profession. His motivational speaking skills were tested as he persuaded Filipino mariners that the maritime industry is worth sacrificing for in the long run.

As a person who believes in “upward mobility” in training, Almacen is firm on reinforcing things from the bottom. “The only way to achieve an effective and profitable maritime industry is to train a seafarer. Giving them the best entails training the instructors themselves; and who does that? That is where I come in. The trainers of maritime instructors have to be educated on the principles of learning and the different methods of teaching effectively as well as the passion on which all sorts of education should be anchored upon,” he concluded.