Demand stays strong for Maritime training

Maritime school grads may be finding it tougher to find full-time work this year, but they’re not discouraged. And the schools themselves are flush with applicants.

“In the past, we had a 90 percent placement rate, and I’m fairly confident we’re going to see that again,” said John Worth, director of career services and cadet shipping, Maine Maritime Academy , Castine, Maine, which graduated 202 students in May.

But the economy has taken a toll. On the inland side, “it used to be our grads would come out of here and get three job offers, and now they’re getting one,” he said. “Engineers are probably more in demand now than any other sector of our training.”

The brownwater market is about as slow as last year with only a few students getting jobs on tugs or tows, said Paul Bamonte, director of enrollment services at SUNY Maritime College , Throggs Neck, N.Y. “Where we see a little action is with the Western rivers companies.” About half of the May class of 100 had jobs by mid-June, which is slightly ahead of last year.

The fact that “they’re actually being trained to do something,” as Maine Maritime’s Worth said, has boosted school numbers.

“We’re at full enrollment and are seeing an increase in the people going to get maritime training,” he said. Over the last six years, the number of students has grown from 800 to 950.

Enrollment is up at SUNY, too, and Bamonte said they’ve gotten inquiries from policemen and firefighters who want to get their licenses and go to sea after putting in the requisite time on shore.

In 2006, SUNY had 886 applicants for 293 openings. This year, it had 1,531 applicants for 435 openings, a 5 percent increase in applicants for available slots. “I could enroll a freshman class of 500 to 600,” said Jonathan White, SUNY’s dean of admissions. “We actually were full in January for this fall, which is unprecedented. Our students are getting jobs and good paying jobs.”

SUNY grad Jami-Lyn Butto, 23, of Lake Worth, Fla., has a marine transportation degree and recently sat for her third mate unlimited license.

Butto has almost completed work on a masters in international trade and management, so if she doesn’t get her license by the end of the summer, she may return to grad school.

“Everybody understands the economy goes up and down,” she said. “There’s always going to be a need for shipping. I’m going to find a job.” – D.K. DuPont


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