First Hong Kong female mariner qualifies as
Captain of ocean-going vessels
The Maritime Professional Promotion Federation (MPPF) and the Hong Kong Maritime Forum (HKMF) jointly held a press conference, entitled "A successful maritime professional", on board the passenger vessel "Star Pisces" today (January 3). Star Cruises was the sponsor of the press conference venue. The firstHong Kong female mariner to qualify as a Captain of ocean-going vessels, Ms Carmen Chan, shared her experiences. Her successful story has sent a significant and positive message to the shipping industry inHong Kong.
Contemporary seafaring is a safe and advanced professional industry. A career at sea carries favourable remuneration and excellent job prospects. Ms Lilian Chan, who has received engineer training in a shipping company, and Mr Lothair Lam, who graduated from the Department of Logistics and Maritime Studies at theHong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and is qualified as a Captain, also shared their successful experiences at the press conference today. After six years of service on board vessels, Mr Lam acquired qualifications to become a Master mariner. Later, Mr Lam worked ashore for five years and was promoted from Port Captain to become the vice president of a shipping company.
Representatives of the HKMF, shipping companies, the Maritime Services Training Institute, the Nautical Institute Hong Kong Branch, the Hong Kong Seamen's Union (HKSU) and the Hong Kong Institute of Marine Technology were also at the press conference to share their views on what makes a successful maritime professional.
Hong Kong is an international maritime centre and has long held prime status in the global maritime industry. Nevertheless,Hong Kong faces the problem of a shortage of maritime professionals, which is also encountered by other maritime centres. To encourage more young people to take up a seafaring career, the MPPF, the Marine Department and the HKSU introduced subsidy schemes with a view to providing sponsorship to those who want to pursue a career at sea and offering shipboard training for cadets. The relevant sponsorship schemes have been pushed forward for 10 years. Many beneficiaries of these sponsorship schemes have completed their two-year on-the-job training and some of them have acquired Certificates of Competency (deck officer or engineer).
There are promising career prospects for cadets who complete their onboard training. Those who pursue a seafaring career have a 100 per cent employment rate. They can work on either ocean-going vessels or river-trade vessels, or they can take up posts in various disciplined forces such as the Marine Police and the Customs and Excise Department. Generally speaking, it takes cadets about eight years to obtain Master or Chief Engineer qualifications. After obtaining these professional qualifications for ocean-going vessels, mariners can turn to shore-based maritime industries and take up managerial posts, such as marine officer, ship surveyor, ship manager, logistics manager, surveyor in classification societies, harbour pilot and container terminal manager. Alternatively, they may choose to further their studies and take up jobs in other maritimebusiness after acquiring the related professional qualifications. Examples of such professions include maritime arbitration, maritime law, maritime engineering and marine insurance.
The MPPF was jointly formed by 13 maritime unions and affiliated maritime organisations in 2002. Its members include the Hong Kong Seamen'sUnion, the Merchant Navy Officers' Guild, the Amalgamated Union of Seafarers Hong Kong, the Nautical Institute Hong Kong Branch and the Hong Kong Pilot Union. Its objectives are to promote the maritime industry, to encourage young people to join the industry, to enhance relevant education and training, to nurture maritime talents and to maintainHong Kong's status as an international maritime centre.
The Hong Kong Shipowners Association has also lent its strong support by assigning veteran Capt. Tommy Lam Pui Hung, who is now a marine consultant, to offer assistance to graduates from the various tertiary institutions who are interested in seafaring. Capt. Lam helps them to find jobs at sea and mentors them as they adapt to their seagoing careers and strive to solve the problems encountered during their working life onboard. We would also like to express our gratitude to various shipping companies. They are Swire Shipping (The China Navigation Company), who have employed Ms. Carmen Chan since she was a cadet, 00CL , who have employed Mr. Jimmy Ngai), Wah Kwong Shipping Company (employing Michael Chan), Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Co., Ltd. (employing Lilian Chan) , Shun Tak — China Travel Ship Management Limited (employing Ms. HO Wai Yan) . We are grateful to them for providing job opportunities to local young people so as to nurture a team of excellent new professionals for the maritime industry.
Between 2002 and 2004, the MPPF took the initiative to launch a sea-going incentive scheme, providing scholarships for those who aspire to work at sea, and helping them to fulfil their dreams of working on board vessels. Afterwards, with the full support of the Hong Kong Maritime Industry Council, the Government launched the Sea-going Training Incentive Scheme in 2004 to provide more deck cadets and engineer cadets with financial incentives, and to enable more interested youngsters to benefit from it. The Sea-going Training Incentive Scheme provides a cash allowance to cadets under training, so as to enable them to realise their dreams of seafaring. To date, more than 230 deck and engineer cadets have participated in the Sea-going Training Incentive Scheme, with the high figure demonstrating the scheme's success.
Seafaring is safe, professional and advanced, and offers attractive remuneration and bright prospects. Those who would like to pursue a career in the industry can consider applying for the Higher Diploma in Maritime Studies under theInstitute ofVocational Education, the Department of Logistics and Maritime Studies at PolyU and the faculties of mechanical engineering at other universities. For details, please visit www.seagoinghk.org.