‘Lankan seafarers capable of bringing $ 1 billion annually into the country, provided they are adequately trained’

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

Sri Lankan seafarers generate around US $ 300 million per year and that amount could be increased to US $ one billion if our seafarers are properly trained for overseas maritime related jobs, Vice President, Maritime, International Cooperation & Foreign Projects, CINEC Campus, Capt. Peshala Medagama said.

“At present our seafarers mainly work on dry cargo vessels and we need to develop seafarers for work in any type of vessel. Our technology competencies are quite satisfactory but the biggest challenge is the lack of English language communication competencies, Medagma said at the World Maritime Day 2022 conference, held at Monarch Imperial Hotel at Thalawathugoda -Battaramulla last week.

The theme of the event was, “New Technology for Greener Shipping”. The event was organized by the International Maritime Organization’s Goodwill Maritime Ambassador Nish Wiyayakulathilaka.

Capt. Peshala

Medagama added: ‘At present Sri Lanka has nearly 48,000 seafarers out of which only 16,500 are active seafarers, including 3700 officers. Therefore, English skill is the biggest challenge, which needs to be addressed as soon as possible to deploy them in highly lucrative jobs in the maritime industry.

‘Sri Lanka is situated along the key shipping route between the Malacca Straits and the Suez Canal, which links Asia and Europe. An estimated 36,000 ships, including 4,500 oil tankers, use the route annually. It is not a difficult task, if we could approach decision makers in Korean, Chinese and European shipping lines and promote our seas seafarers in those companies.

‘We need a paradigm shift in this regard. We need to train them in English communication skills, while also training them on the technology aspect with the imparting of concepts like the new technology in green shipping.

‘Sri Lanka’s strength is based on competency, technology skill and loyalty. Apart from that Sri Lanka could be promoted as a shipping manufacturing center in the region but is unable to harness that potential yet.

‘Our industry heads have to give leadership, identify ship owners and give presentations about our seafarers and identify their needs. We need to train them and this will create more employment opportunities. Subsequently, US dollars will come into the country.’


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