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Commentary: Money in Maritime

By Danny O. Sagun

Dagupan City (19 August) -- Wanna earn huge bucks? Join the maritime industry.

Seafarers are said to earn $7,000 to $20,000 a month, much much more than what a land-based executive gets. A cadet on training already earns $300, more than what a newly-hired teacher gets in a month.

A manpower crisis especially for officers is hitting the industry, according to shipping executives who in a dialogue Tuesday with high school principals and guidance counselors from Region 1 at PAMMA sought the latter's help in motivating those at the top of their class to consider a maritime career.

Top students with high aptitude in math and science (physics) and a proficiency of English may be qualified for sponsorships by big shipping firms, assuring a bright future for them, they said.

Salaries with no deductions (tax), along with free lodging and meals, free travel, long vacations, and opportunity to learn various cultures are rare benefits that await a seafarer, according to them.

Enticing, right?

But not all who dream of such privileges get it. At the open forum, a principal related that her son ended up working in a low-paying job in Saudi after several unsuccessful tries in obtaining a slot in at least two shipping lines.

The executives replied that screening is so competitive now an applicant may have difficulty hurdling the requirements or standards. They said passing a school curriculumn is no guarantee for a job in the industry. The challenge is therefore now tossed to maritime schools like PAMMA to produce quality graduates. A ship with its cargo worth $20 million to $100 million excluding lives cannot just be entrusted to anyone, they pointed out.

'Seamanloloko', 'girl in every port' - these are just two of the many tags given to seamen for their infidelity, which the executives refused to admit saying there is practically no time for seamen to flirt with women in every part of the globe because of lack of time. Most contracts allow a seafarer to go on long vacation with his family, the executives noted. Ehem. (PIA) [top]

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