Seafarer producing countries
Asia: Majority of seafarers come from the Philippines; however, this workforce is mainly the Ratings i.e. Marine Crews. India has been well-set in the maritime manpower map with generating marine officers/engineers for many years. However, nowadays students are finding many comparable choices. China has all the traits to be a major international supplying point; but that has not been happened because of very internal focus; although their economy is doing very well and requires workforce for its own use and having an unemployment rate of only 4.5%. Vietnam seemed to be a forthcoming supply point, but has failed to meet the expectations in numbers, mainly due do to lack of educational background and training facilities. Indonesia on the other hand has a future prospect to enter the supply arena; however, we have to wait for that future. Myanmar, due to its political instability, has not been able to capitalize its hard-working workforce. Moreover, due to sanctions imposed by many countries, Myanmar has not figured on maritime manpower map yet.
South America: A country needs to have a good merchant fleet of its own for becoming a strong workforce supplying point. Except Brazil, most South American countries have small fleets. In fact, these countries have just the sufficient workforce to meet their own demands only. Although Brazil trains officers for its own merchant fleets, however, as their oil and offshore sector is growing, the future supply will also be dedicated to meet its own needs.
Africa and Middle East: Excepting Egypt and Nigeria, all the countries have small fleets. Nigerian maritime workforce is mainly working in their oil & gas sector, and few Egyptian officers are seen to be working in the international fleet. This is also the case for some Angolan and South African officers. There lies a political and financial risk for international ship management companies to enter these countries. The same goes for the Middle Eastern maritime countries. Military conflicts and political risks have lessened the importance of these countries in the maritime field.
The above scenario of the shipping world clearly shows that seafaring is an international engagement that contains continuous challenge of conserving own position among various maritime nations. Even then it is also clear that prospect and opportunities are there for our Bangladesh too. We only need to have the appropriate attitude, professionalism and patience to conquer a fair share in the world of oceans. Although we have centuries-old heritage of seafaring, we have merely a tiny presence today in the World Maritime Manpower Map – 16 thousand among 1.89 millions world-wide. We may be very small in number but we are not insignificant in our excellence. In every corner of the globe, a Bangladeshi seafarer is seen to be working at some apex position – in Singapore, Australia, UK, Canada, USA, Middle East etc. We do not lack in merit, skill and capacities. In this 21st century, we need to have spontaneous combination of professional skill and academic excellence. Besides, with blessings of the efficient leadership and teamwork, the desired day is not far away when maritime light of Bangladesh will also brighten up the policy level of the shipping world.
May Allah bless our Maritime Bangladesh!
The writer is the Commandant, Bangladesh Marine
Academy and IMO Maritime Ambassador
We couldn’t publish this part of the article yesterday due to unavoidable circumstances – Editorial Desk