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Philippines President Marcos Jr pledges on seafarer training for new fuels

Philippines President Marcos Jr pledges on seafarer training for new fuels
Marcus Hand | Jun 27, 2023

Philippines President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr has directed the country’s maritime and education authorities to work closely with the shipping industry to ensure Filipino seafarers have the skills needed for future fuels and digitalisation.

The Philippines is the world’s largest supplier of crew to international shipping and speaking to the ‘Shaping the Future of Shipping: Seafarer 2050’ event in Manila the President said they were proud of the title of the seafaring capital of the world and opportunities and wealth it creates for the country.

“I thus insure everyone that this government will continue strengthening maritime related policies and protecting our seafarers and their loved ones,” President Marcos Jr said.

Related: 87% of seafarers say training needed for handling new fuels

A key challenge facing the shipping industry going forward is decarbonisation and having crew training to operate alternative fuels such as methanol and ammonia safely.

The summit organised by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS),the International Transport Workers Federations (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council Ltd. (IMEC) with the Filipino Shipowners Association (FSA), bringing together shipowners, employers, government and unions.

“Now we find ourselves at a turning point for this very crucial sector. In recent years the entire transportation industry, including shipping of course, is undergoing a huge transformation marked by the coming of new and sustainable fuels, as well as an increasing deployment of digitisation and automation,” President Marcos Jr said.

“A central part of this change necessarily includes investing in a highly qualified and well-trained workforce that will build, maintain, and man these shipping vessels and sail towards other opportunities.”

He pledged that the Philippines authorities would work with the industry to provide the training for its seafarers required.

“As President, I reiterate my directive to the Maritime Industry Authority and the Commission on Higher Education to work closely with the shipping industry on the upskilling and reskilling of Filipino seafarers to prepare them for the shift of ocean-going vessels from using conventional fuel sources to green ammonia between 2030 and 2050,” he said.

He also called for cross industry support in these efforts. “Moreover, I enjoin national government agencies, multi-layer organisers, and private stakeholders to work together in identifying strategies to ensure the availability of skilled workers to fulfil the requirements of the shipping industry. This is expected to significantly increase by the year 2050.”

President Marcos Jr has taken a keen interest in seafaring issues since taking up office at the end of June last year. He intervened in with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to finally resolve long running issues over standards of maritime training in the Philippines and the threat of a ban of Filipino officers serving on European-flagged vessels which had hung over them for 15 years.

To attract young people to take up careers as shipboard engineers the design and ergonomics of the engine room need to be studied to make for a more conducive working environment according Gerardo Borromeo, CEO of PTC Group.

With the move to alternative fuels there will be new ship board systems and skillsets required to operate these.

Speaking to the Seatrade Maritime Podcast, Borromeo, says, “You have the shipowners, you have the charters, the ship managers, the crew managers, the crew agents, and you have all of the providers of equipment, you also have the class societies, everyone has to come to the table. And the reason for that is simply that we all need to understand where that future is going and how do we create perhaps a more standardised approach similar to the way the aviation industry has evolved.”

When it comes to attracting young people to a career in seafaring one of the challenges in the Philippines is encouraging candidates to consider marine engineering rather than deck officer positions. Borromeo shares that when you start ask why this is, “and what is it that is missing in the whole engineering equation, and you realise that part of an effort has to be a review of the ergonomics of the engine room”.

He notes that over the years the layout of the engine room has not necessarily changed to make it a more conducive environment to work in.