TNPA ploughing back scarce skills into the maritime sector

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is making a significant contribution to the development of critical skills required by the South African port system, with its ongoing development of marine cadets.

Ten new cadets, out of a national port pipeline of 31, have just completed their academic and sea borne training, with seven of them now employed by the Port of Ngqura for three years to complete their Tug Master training and three at the Port of Richards Bay. Twenty-one cadets are still in the process of completing their cadetship at academic institutions or at sea.

“TNPA embarked on this initiative in 2012 to develop a pipeline of these scarce skills, vital to our operations. To date 90% of TNPA’s Tug Masters and Marine Pilots are products of this programme. Some have advanced to Deputy Harbour Masters, Harbour Masters and Marine Operations Managers – qualifications that are high in demand internationally,” said Siphokazi Maqetuka, HR Manager of the Port of Ngqura.

“Through this programme we are not only preparing youth for maritime careers to meet the needs of the ports, but we are also uplifting surrounding communities. We have various interventions in place to attract and develop these highly skilled young people. It begins at previously disadvantaged high schools where we offer bursaries to deserving matriculants at our adopted schools nationally. Our maritime career awareness programme includes media exposure, career exhibitions, visits to schools, allowing learners to visit our ports and partnerships with various stakeholders in the education sphere,” said Maqetuka.

The seven Ngqura trainees – five males and two females – were initially recruited from schools in the Eastern Cape. They have now come back to their home port after being away, completing their academic studies and sea-time experience elsewhere.

Sibusiso Dlamini, Tug Master in the Port of Ngqura, is assisting the Tug Master Trainees with tug handling skills as well as SAMSA requirements and regulations.

He explains: “The Tug Master Trainees are trained to handle and manoeuvre tugboats within port limits and in rare cases they will do coastal voyages between ports. The training also includes the managing of crew and ensuring that tug maintenance is done effectively.”

“This initiative is more than just bricks and mortar or the latest technology,” adds Maqetuka. “None of our strategic plans can succeed without having the appropriate pipeline of maritime skills, knowledge and experience in place. At the heart of this programme is the need to continuously improve the operational efficiency of our ports, to remain globally competitive and in the process lower the cost of doing business, offering our customers quality service,” she said.

The Marine Cadet Programme

Students interested in the Marine Cadet Programme are required to pass pure Maths, Physical Science and English in Grade 12. They can study Maritime Studies (Navigation) and Marine Engineering through the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), the Durban University of Technology (DUT) or the Nelson Mandela University (NMU).