By Shirley Wandera & Allan Kai

The Permanent Secretary State Department of Shipping and Maritime, Mr. Shadrack Mwadime has urged the youth in the Coastal region to be aggressive in taking opportunities in the shipping and maritime industry.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Blue Radio, Mr. Mwadime noted the numerous job opportunities in the blue economy specifically for seafarers.

The PS mentioned that the increase in the number of institutions offering seafarers courses, such as Bandari Maritime Academy, Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, Technical University of Mombasa, and Pioneer University gives youth an opportunity that they need to actively explore.

Touching on the issue of sea time experience for fresh maritime graduates, Mr. Mwadime reiterated that on a policy level, the government would ensure collaboration with international shipping lines to guarantee this important aspect for the profession.

“Sea time experience is very important when it comes to maritime jobs, we are going to insist sea time experience should be part of maritime courses. It goes hand in hand with the theoretical aspect and we therefore will change the regulations that all education institutions that offer courses on matters maritime must have a memorandum of understanding with international shipping companies so that our young people can get the sea time experience they require,” said Mr. Mwadime.

One way to ensure young Kenyans can explore opportunities in the maritime and shipping industry is by revamping the Kenya National Shipping Line.

The PS touched on this stating that this measure will allow the country to absorb fresh graduates into the industry with ease, along with serving as a revenue stream by creating clearing job opportunities for imports, which would ultimately reduce the cost of living.

“I understand how the frustration because before you secure that internship with the international shipping agencies, you will be out there for a while. Those opportunities do not come easily. But you can imagine if we had our own National carrier, then it becomes an issue of directing them on a number of students per year,” said Mr. Mwadime.

The PS added that one of the targets the ministry looks to accomplish is securing job opportunities for young people.

“By the end of this financial year, possibly 3,000 youth would have secured jobs as seafarers in the shipping companies among which is the Mediterranean Sea company,” said Mr. Mwadime.

Touching on the issue of the cost of joining the various learning institutions for seafarers, Mr. Mwadime has directed the Kenya Maritime Authority to set aside Sh20M as part of their corporate social responsibility for the higher education loans board so that young people facing challenges paying for courses in maritime training institutions can apply for loans.

“I have directed the Kenya Maritime Authority which is a regulator in this industry, to set aside Sh20M as part of their corporate social responsibility. This is money that has been wired to the Higher Education Loans Board so that young people can apply for these loans” he added.

As a parting note, the PS acknowledged the opportunities and resources that Kenya has within the blue economy, stating that, “we have immense resources that we can exploit for our own good… We haven’t even started scratching the surface with the resources that are available in the blue c=economy.”