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World Bank: PH has to upgrade seafarers' skills to take advantage of global shortage

World Bank: PH has to upgrade seafarers' skills to take advantage of global shortage
Lois Calderon, CNN Philippines Mar 22, 2023

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 22) — The Philippines should seize the opportunity from a global shortage in seafarers but it has to upgrade its maritime training to be at par with international standards, according to a World Bank report released on Wednesday.

"There is a shortage of officers with technical experience at managerial level and management-level deck officers in the tanker and offshore sectors," the World Bank said in its Philippine Jobs Report 2023.

The Washington-based multilateral institution cited a recent estimate that projects a global demand for an additional 89,510 officers by 2026.

A 2021 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development or UNCTAD ranked the Philippines as the world's largest source of seafarers with less than half a million (380,000 to 400,000) working abroad.

But last year, the Philippines came under fire after German newspaper Deutsche Welle reported that the European Commission was considering a ban on Filipino seafarers working on European vessels.

That's after a European maritime safety agency audit found the Philippines does not comply with international standards for maritime safety.

The World Bank echoed the call for the Philippines to invest in "strong" maritime training as well as "diplomatic and market scoping efforts" to fill the global demand and boost deployment after the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a blow on the sector.

"The quality of the training and licensing should be upgraded to be on par with international standards and keep up with the reputation of OFW seafarers," the World Bank report read.

"Key outcomes such as the number of internationally accredited licenses acquired, outcomes of job placement, and career progression of workers, can be considered. Regular refresher courses and training should also be provided for seafarers to move up the career ladder," it added.

The Philippine government said it will take heed.

"The Department of Migrant workers, based on the directive of Secretary Ople, has been working closely with maritime training institutions, educational institutions to enhance maritime education. The big role of the Department there is ensuring that the feedback from the stakeholders carries over to maritime training institutions," Migrant Workers Undersecretary Hans Cacdac said during the report's launch.