Luanda, Angola: Twenty-five eager young seafarers will have the opportunity to acquire maritime skills and develop their potential through Maersk Supply Service’s new seafaring programme for Angolans, which launches this week. In a first for the company, the cadets will be trained in India. The initiative will not only benefit Maersk Supply Service, but also help build capacity in the Angolan offshore industry.
Angola requires foreign companies operating in the country to employ 70 per cent of their workforce locally over time. But in a country with no seafaring tradition, Maersk Supply Service had a challenge in building up its own pool of certified, competent employees. The initiative will add 25 new recruits to that pool. Joshua Stack, Maersk Supply Service Country Manager in Angola explains: “By bringing up our own people we make sure that our crews receive the best training right from the beginning, not least in terms of safety. In short, that they work the Maersk-way and live our values,” he says.
Maersk Supply Service is part of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group. The company has a fleet of more than 60 supply vessels, 2000 employees and takes part in oil and offshore operations across the globe.
Interest in the training opportunity has been overwhelming. A single advertisement in a local Angolan newspaper resulted in 4000 applications. Maersk Supply Service whittled these thousands down to 25 seafarer trainees and on 1 July the 25 chosen will depart for Chennai in India for up to 12 months of language and seafarer training conducted by Maersk Training India and Maritime Foundation, a private training centre.
The group will spearhead a new Maersk Supply Service programme aimed at building up a pool of local Maersk seafarers in this oil-rich country and important growth market. Maersk Supply Service has previously implemented schemes for hiring locals in other parts of the world, but an overseas training programme of this scale is a first for the company.
Good business and the greater good
The new initiative is not only a prerequisite for doing business in Angola, though. It also comes with a positive side-effect in that it helps to build up capacity of the offshore workforce in this energy-rich West African country.
“Although we are in Angola for business, we firmly believe that it’s important to contribute to the countries in which we work. This programme is just a first step in what we consider to be a long journey towards expanding our pool of professional seafarers in Angola,” Claus Tafteberg Sørensen, Maersk Supply Service Chief Commercial Officer says.
Training Angolans to become skilled seafarers is not a first for Maersk. In 2010, towage company Svitzer, also part of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, started an innovative training programme for prospective Angolan seafarers. From a pool of 500 applicants, 80 eager seafarers were selected to spend twelve weeks in training on board the fully-rigged training ship Danmark, cruising in the Atlantic.
Prior to the on-board training the cadets underwent six months of on-shore pre-sea training in Angola, combining English language training, safety and security awareness as well as the necessary survival procedure modules for operating tugs. Sixty-seven made it through the difficult training program and many afterwards crewed Maersk Supply Service vessels to gain experience. The men now work on vessels by the Angola LNG gas plant in Soyo, which Svitzer has a 20 year contract with.
Training people to a high standard always brings the risk of competitors looking out to snatch the best. But the hope is that giving the new trainees world-class training will make them feel part of the family and thus form a strong attachment to Maersk.
The next class of trainees is expected to be hired by Maersk Supply Service at the end of this year with training starting in early 2013.