As I approach my 70s and with over 40 years in the passenger vessel industry, I find myself looking back more and more these days.
I’m not ignoring the future, but I find that I am making observations based on a lifetime of experiences, some good and some not so good. All of these experiences have molded me into who I am today, and they certainly influence my opinions.
I consider hard work to be very important. My father taught me that it is the key to success. Another is education. When you couple hard work with education, you have an unbeatable combination. Whether it is high school, college, or vocational training, education prepares you for the challenges of life and work.
The maritime industry continues to have a tough time finding workers. While the coronavirus pandemic situation certainly doesn’t help, we will eventually emerge from it and will once again need qualified mariners and workers. For years, we have been wringing our hands trying to attract workers to our industry. We have participated in job fairs and other similar events to try to sell students and others on the career opportunities our industry has to offer with mixed results.
Recognizing this ongoing challenge, the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) is working to foster strong relationships with U.S. maritime academies. PVA’s hope is to increase the visibility of careers in the passenger vessel industry among maritime academy cadets. PVA has also hosted several cadet interns at its headquarters in Alexandria, Va., to familiarize them with the passenger vessel industry. The interns toured PVA member operations, participated in meetings and conventions, and took part in visits with Congressional leaders and staff and federal regulatory bodies. PVA recognized early in the process that not all cadets want to go to sea after graduating and some are interested in marine operations and the business aspects of running passenger vessel operations shoreside.
But what can the maritime industry do to attract mariners and employees to our vessels and businesses? All segments of our industry should set a goal of working closely with local schools, community colleges, universities, and trade schools to promote careers in our industry.
We cannot just sit back and hope that employees will automatically come to us. We must be proactive. Promoting education is a win-win for everybody and will result in a better workforce for the future. Young people are our future and we need to make an investment in them sooner than later.