TACLOBAN CITY – The National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP), the only government-owned maritime training and research center of the country took part on the online launching of the TUV Rheinland Philippines and Certif-ID International’s initiative: ‘NEXT STEP SEAFARERS:  SKILLS DEVELOPMENT TO EMPLOYMENT’ during the celebration of the “World Youth Skills Day” on 15 July 2020.  The strategic partnership was aimed at supporting the Filipino seafarers impacted by COVID-19 in returning to their workforce as quickly as possible.

NMP was among the government agencies who supported the said undertaking together with other world leading organizations including, TSM Group, German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI), Nordic Chamber Philippines, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), PTC Holdings, Skill Bean, and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

NMP Executive Director Joel B. Maglunsod was invited to share through a recorded video message, some essential guidance and practical steps to help the maritime industry manage the impact of COVID-19.  NMP’s inputs focused on sustaining capability development for the maritime industry’s human capital as a major thrust in enhancing sustainability and resilience of the maritime transport during and post-COVID.

In his message, ED Maglunsod shared that, the Philippines, as a major provider of seafarers to the global maritime labor market is seriously bearing the devastating impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the maritime industry thus the need to strain forward and take stock of possible situations in the maritime industry in the near future, so that it can brace itself and adequately prepare for the call of the times while during and after the COVID pandemic.

He also emphasized that amidst the difficulties, the maritime industry continues to play an essential role in the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, by facilitating transport of vital commodities and product which was made possible with a lot of sacrifices by the seafarers who have been stuck at sea providing service to the world beyond their contract period and within a highly challenging situation.

It was also stressed the need to consider the impact of the pandemic to the global economy and the maritime industry, highlighting the fact that saving the world’s seafarers redound to saving the supply system that they support, and to enhance resiliency of the maritime transport will require sustaining the capability development of the human capital in the maritime industry.

ED Maglunsod also highlighted that the closure of all educational and training institutions due to the COVID situation has accelerated the adoption of online learning by all, including countries that have lagged in embracing digital evolution. Online delivery provides a safer alternative and a cost-effective solution to ensure that seafarers are able to renew mandatory training certificates during these extraordinary times and maintain proof of competence.

With online learning, convenient learning conditions can be provided to meet the needs of the crew wherever they are.  The problem on the shortage of qualified maritime instructors to teach students and trainees in the traditional face-to-face setting is mitigated; education and training institutions can tap senior marine officers from anywhere to be part of the pool of its teaching staff without need for them to be physically present in the training institution.  The cost savings for employers and seafarers are important in these challenging times. Obvious savings come from reduced travel costs for seafarers and maritime instructors and the administration cost of educational institutions in maintaining buildings and training spaces.

Moreover, the way forward to further strengthen resiliency of the maritime industry is for nations to work in collaboration and in synergy with each other.  The capability building of seafarers within a region through a highly interconnected distance learning platform among countries or member economies in order to reach seafarers across the region will have milestone impact in ensuring adequate supply of competent and competitive seafarers.  In addition, the establishment of a distance learning platform to be utilized both onshore and onboard among member economies will enhance resilience of the maritime industry in the area on human capital development for unexpected external situations in the future, similar to the COVID pandemic.

Further, he disclosed that in response to these challenges, NMP will start to offer this quarter online learning for the ‘value-adding’ courses and at the same time ram up the development of purely online and blended learning platforms for the mandatory training courses.  Meanwhile, Post-Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) protocols have been put in place for the public, our clients – the seafarers, ensuring their safety and of everyone while availing of face-to-face training for our existing training courses for officers and ratings in both deck and engine departments.

NMP continuously assures that its training courses are implemented in accordance with national and international standards on maritime education and training.  Its training services are designed and implemented addressing the current and emergent needs of critical groups such as the management level officers, trainers and assessors, offshore and maritime-allied personnel and employer-required skills on top of the regular training programs.

Likewise, the Agency is exigently strengthening strategic alliances with partner agencies and institutions, both government and private as well as local and international , taking advantage of opportunities of the new developments in its external environment for the generation of resources and technical operation as well as improved visibility of NMP in the industry.

Meanwhile, in its effort to sustain its mandate in providing quality service through upgrading and specialized training programs, NMP continues to maintain and upgrade its facilities and its pool of competent instructors. Those Interested to take the training courses may visit the NMP website @ www.nmp.gov.ph or visit the agency’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ nmptrainingcenter) where all updates and relevant information on NMP programs are available.

Interested stakeholders who wish to validate the authenticity of their seafarers-employed with NMP issued certificates may visit www.verify.nmp.gov.ph.  Likewise, those interested in NMP research undertakings may visit the NMP website and access the e-Research Information System Portal which is designed to disseminate NMP completed researches, present the Research Agenda, and engage the industry stakeholders to collaborate in the research activities.

Further, NMP encourages OWWA registered seafarers to avail of the NMP-OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) Seafarers’ Upgrading Program (SUP) and Skills for Employment Scholarship Program (SESP) which entitles the beneficiary to receive financial assistance for training costs from the OWWA.