For some children, maritime careers a hard sell

Female maritime industry leaders in Grand Cayman meet with students at George Town Primary to talk about careers in the industry. – Photos: Jewel Levy

At a session on seafaring at George Town Primary School on Tuesday, students were introduced to career opportunities in the maritime industry. Jobs in the sector are adventurous and well paid, the Year 6 students were told.

But for some of the students, a career in the maritime industry proved to be a hard sell.

They said they preferred a career “on land.”

“It’s much safer and we will not drown,” a student shouted.

“We are afraid to die,” a girl added.

Students were shown a slide presentation on the various careers that a life in the maritime industry offers.

The 40 students gathered in the school hall were listening to a presentation from female maritime industry leaders, who are attending the inaugural Conference of the Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean.

“What we are doing is visiting different schools with the maritime ladies attending the conference from around the region, and telling students how they [can get] involved in the maritime industry, and what they actually do within the industry,” said Vangie Hunter, an agent for Hybur Ltd., which is hosting the WiMAC conference, along with Cayman Shipping Registry.

Sharing her experience in the shipping industry with the students, Michelle Scipio-Hosang said she repairs ship engines and machinery. She said she gets to travel all over the world and meet different people.

Her job is exciting, Ms. Scipio-Hosang told the students, despite sometimes getting all greased up.

From left, maritime industry representatives Jennifer Nugent-Hill, Joanne Edwards-Alleyne and Vangie Hunter, Education Minister Tara Rivers, Dwynette Eversley, WiMAC first vice president, Trinidad and Tobago, and marine engineer Michelle Scipio-Hosang.
From left, maritime industry representatives Jennifer Nugent-Hill, Joanne Edwards-Alleyne and Vangie Hunter, Education Minister Tara Rivers, Dwynette Eversley, WiMAC first vice president, Trinidad and Tobago, and marine engineer Michelle Scipio-Hosang.

Jennifer Nugent-Hill, working with Tropical Shipping as a director of governmental and community affairs, said it is a fulfilling career.

She started as a manager on the island of St. Croix, she said, when they were looking for a general manager who had experience in crisis management.

Dwynette Eversley, WiMAC first vice president, Trinidad and Tobago, said there are many career opportunities in the maritime industry that do not involve going to sea.

Some of the students, however, still expressed concern.

“You associate water with dying?” asked Joanne Edwards-Alleyne, general manager at the Shipping Association of Trinidad and Tobago. “How many of you can swim?” she asked.

All of the children raised their hands.

“That’s the first criteria for a career at sea,” she said.

“For all you landlubbers, there are other opportunities, like a marine pilot, that is the best of both worlds – you get to bring in the ships. And there is also the tugboats,” said Ms. Edwards-Alleyne.

“Would you love to sail around the world and meet different people?” she asked.

To this, the students responded positively.

“Learn more about the sea because you do live on an island; we need to know all the opportunities that exist at sea and on land. And who knows, you might come across one that ignites your passion. Despite the sea and your reservations about it, you won’t die. In fact, more accidents happen on land then on sea,” she said.

Education Minster Tara Rivers made a brief appearance at the presentation. She encouraged students to learn all they could about opportunities that exist for both women and men in the shipping industry.

She reminded students of the shipping heritage of their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who went to sea to build the country.

Since the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association was formed two years ago, they have been conducting an outreach program for students, educating them about careers in the maritime industry in the Cayman Islands and in other countries.

School Principal Marie Martin was pleased the students were hearing about career opportunities at an early age. “It’s good to expose our students at a very early age to a variety of career options,” she said. “For girls, it’s an eye-opener, and the possibility exists to move away from the traditional careers of nursing, hairdresser and teacher. After all, the sky is the limit.”

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  1. As we know that Cayman Islands have / had some of the best seamen in the world , and the tradition of seamanship of our Islands has been around for a long time , I would like to see that it continues for generations to come .

    I was first introduced to the water by learning how to swim , and was thought to have respect for the water / ocean. In my life I have been in alot of situations under and on the water , and they all thought me something more, and I still have lots of love and respect for the water / ocean.

    I think that the young kids today should be introduced to maritime just like how they started school. From kidigarden to high school . We can’t expect the kids to want to choose maritime for a career by putting them first in the Captain position first . I think that the kids need alot of first hand experiences in and on the water. Learning swimming , snorkeling, sailing , rowing a boat , and overall boating before they are asked if they would like a career in maritime.

    I think that if parents are not from the Cayman Islands seamen error they should join their kids in learning all about the the water too.

  2. What I believe is happening here, is that most of these students do not have that genetically in them to want to have a maritime career.
    Back then, in Cayman, both husband wives and their children became involved in maritime. The men went fishing or turtling almost every day and on week ends families would get together and go to the beach fishing. Children back then learned how to throw sprat nets, how to open scene nets for fish, spearfish, towing for top water fish like jacks, and line fish for deep water fish. We dived ten to twenty feet for conch, and speared for lobsters . Everyone including the children, enjoyed a treat to make up a bond fire and sit on the beach week ends and fish. Some Caymanian children still carry on the tradition, but the generation has mixed and changed genetically, we will find less children are inspired to go on the water. It will be very difficult for them to adopt, unless the old fashion way is brought back.