A Chartered Shipbroker and Maritime Lecturer, Gertrude Ohene-Asienim (FICS), has underscored the significance of industry-specific training and capacity building for professionals within Ghana’s Shipping and Maritime industry.
Speaking on the Eye on Port programme, she said providing the requisite industry-specific training presents many benefits for professionals and the industry as a whole.
“The maritime sector is a very interesting area; you can be a doctor and still work onboard a vessel, but you need to have your mandatories to enable you specialise and work on a vessel. You can even be a cook and work on-board a vessel. It is a very wide area,” she expressed.
She emphasised that industry-specific training and capacity building not only promotes professionalism, but also helps employees within a workspace appreciate their roles in the entire shipping supply chain and act efficiently.
The academic, who is the first female Chartered Shipbroker in West Africa, said Ghana can take a cue from Kenya – where it is a prerequisite for workers within the industry to possess a foundational diploma from the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS).
Gertrude Ohene-Asienim urged local companies in the industry to act more proactively when it comes to organising training programmes for employees.
“It’s always sad to see that when you organise training, you have the multinational companies bringing people for training but very few coming from indigenous Ghanaian companies – and yet we want to match boot-to-boot with these people. We have to understand that in order to thrive in this industry, we have to give our people continuous professional development,” she remarked.
She stated that in order for local companies to achieve excellence and compete favourably in the shipping and maritime industry, they have to train personnel at the standard of their international peers.
She said the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) offers a vast array of maritime training courses which Ghanaians can take advantage of, as the country plans to compete favourably in international maritime trade.
Gertrude Ohene-Asienim emphasised that the maritime industry extends beyond the port. She explained that maritime graduates and professionals can apply their skills in most industries engaged in international trade or shipping, hence they should not limit themselves to the port.
“People think when you talk about the maritime industry you are talking about the port – that is a wrong notion. There are so many companies that have shipping departments or are into international trade, such as the manufacturing industries. So I would urge my students not to skew their expectations to just ports, but take their skills out there too.”
She expressed optimism for the cabotage law in Ghana, which binds vessels working within Ghanaian territorial waters to train Ghanaian cadets on-board their vessels.
Mrs. Ohene-Asienim revealed that seafarers in the Philippines contribute US$6billion to their country’s economy. This kind of money, she expressed, “is what Ghana is missing from not promoting our seafarers”.
She said Ghana has trained seafarers and marine engineers at the highest level, yet they are unable to ply their trade post-graduation due to unavailability of vessels to work in locally.
“We are wasting resources. Our crew are well-trained, dedicated and efficient. It is up to us to look for opportunities to put our men and women on board vessels. Look at how the cedi is falling. If we get US$6billion back in our economy every year, it will help,” she bemoaned.
The Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers also expressed support for the local marine insurance protocol, which she opined will keep insurance revenues within Ghana as well as make the claims process more efficient.