South African Maritime Skills Supply and Demand

Author Derek Zimmerman

ISSN: 2790-783X
Affiliations: Rand International Capital, Gqeberha, South Africa.
Source: South African Journal of Maritime Education and Training, Volume 1 Issue 1, p. 63-70


The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) is engaged in  answering the questions that centre around whether the country’s maritime skills  supply matches the industry’s demand. The SAIMI commissioned a study1 to  evaluate the maritime skills situation in South Africa, culminating in a final report  in 2019. The purpose of this study was to determine the overall demand for maritime  and ocean economy skills in order to grow the sector, and to determine whether there  is adequate capacity within the skill supply framework to meet this demand. This  exercise required an assessment of the anticipated demand and the current supply of  skills capacity in South Africa, with any surplus or deficit being clearly highlighted.  The author investigated a number of credible studies and international best practice  examples within a framework supported by the latest skills data about the supply  and demand dynamics in the maritime economy arena. It was found that South  Africa is producing graduates with maritime-related qualifications in sufficient  numbers, but not with the relevant types of skills required by the industry, which are  mainly technical and professional maritime skills. A shift in emphasis is required  to prioritise scarce, critical and future-proof skills for the growth of the maritime  economy, with a particular emphasis on the maritime skills that will be needed in the  context of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).  This work was presented to a representative platform of stakeholders in industry,  academia and government at the SAIMI Forward Thinking Conference for  Maritime Education and Training Excellence2 to review current maritime skills  capacity against future demand and to consider collaborative and collective ways to close the skills gap. The outcome of the conference confirmed this report’s findings  and recommendations to address these shortcomings.  A focussed and driven programme is required within the South African maritime  environment to align and accelerate all maritime education, research and skills  enhancement to the market needs of the maritime sector, with the private sector  directly involved throughout.