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January 16, 2008

Italian Shipping Firms Keen to Hire Filipino Seafarers

Italian shipping firms will be hiring more Filipino seafarers in the next three years because of Italy's shortage of seamen.

The Italian-based ship classification entity Registro Italiano Navale (RINA) said that Italy needs 20,000 seamen until 2010.

"We have many new ships but we don't have many experienced seafarers as Italians are not so much interested in working on ships. I think this is the big challenge for us," said Robert Cazzulo, chairman of the Italian Maritime Academy Philippines, Inc. (IMAPI).

IMAPI was inaugurated last September 25. It is equipped with the latest in Italian maritime training equipment such as an engine room and cargo handling simulators for the use of Filipino trainees. Cazzulo said that Italian shipyards have been churning up more vessels, particularly cruise, passenger and liquefied natural gas carriers.

But the problem is that there are only few Italian crew to man them.

Ugo Salerno, RINA chief executive officer, said the Italian Ship Owners Association (ISOA) prefer to hire Filipino seamen, whom they consider as the best in the world.

"The Philippines is the right place to establish a training centre like this. By mixing Italian technology and Filipino manpower, we will be able to do better in shipping industry," Salerno said, referring to the creation of IMAPI, the first training centre in the Philippines recognized by Italy.

IMAPI will serve as a graduate school for experienced Filipino sailors who want to achieve higher levels of competence to fill up those 20,000 slots by 2010.

IMAPI technical and training director Capt. Teofilo Nieto, Jr. said the school could handle an initial 50 trainees.

The trainees' tuition fees will be shouldered by prospective employers.

"We are an assessment and training center for Filipino seamen with the purpose of enhancing their skills as required by the shipping firms," Nieto said.

Through this program, aspiring low-ranking seamen could achieve management level posts, he added.

After the basic training the graduates will be deployed to the ship of their own choosing. The trainees will also be subjected to external examination to assess their skills and qualifications.

Courtesy PNA

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