NSW Maritime industry makes more jobs for the girls

Graduate Deck Cadets Sean Griffith and Amelia Fitzgerald with program co-creator and Yowie Bay/Sydney Marine pilot Michael Kelly (left).
Graduate Deck Cadets Sean Griffith and Amelia Fitzgerald with program co-creator and Yowie Bay/Sydney Marine pilot Michael Kelly (left).

According to the 2018 Seafaring Skills Census, Australia has 5,646 seafarers working in its maritime industry.

But over half of this workforce is aged over 46 - and only 8 per cent is under 30.

Forecasts are predicting a 560-plus shortage of Australian seafarers by 2023, so there are opportunities for jobs growth in the maritime industry.

To help build maritime jobs, NSW Marine Pilot and Yowie Bay local, Michael Kelly, along with Luke Nye have created a training program called the Deck Cadet for the Port Authority of NSW, to help train the next generation of young and aspiring seafarers.

Michael Kelly brings a vast maritime experience to the program.

As a marine pilot, his job is to fly out to sea to help guide large ships safely into busy Sydney Harbour and Port Botany.

In addition to arranging placements on different vessels, the Deck Cadet scheme also pays for cadet wages, flights to and from the ships and associated medicals. Michael and Luke mentor the cadets throughout and after the program.

Deck Cadet's first female participant Amelia Fitzgerald said a major roadblock to a career in the maritime industry was getting the 18-months of sea time experience required to continue her studies to become a qualified worker.

"Working in maritime was in my blood but actually finding training opportunities that would give me the necessary experience at sea were extremely hard to come by," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"Deck Cadet gave me the start in the industry I needed. Just being able to get on several types of vessels, like the SeaRoad ship, which is a Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) ship, the Sycamore, which lands helicopters with the navy, and a rig tender was so valuable.

"In comparison with other cadets who may only see one type of ship, the Deck Cadet program was awesome in kick-starting my maritime career," she said.

Port Authority of NSW's CEO Captain Philip Holliday said he was delighted by Amelia's success, in the Port Authority program, which started just under two years ago and has already sponsored six young mariners.

"This is about supporting the next generation of maritime workers and ensuring the industry is future fit, including greater diversity and more women in the maritime workforce," Captain Holliday said.

As a result of her placement with Port Authority, Amelia has now been offered a cadetship whic sponsors her for the next four years of her at-sea experience and will cover the costs of her remaining studies.

Amelia has the following advice to younger girls and women who want to work in the maritime industry - "Be open to giving everything a go. Do not be scared to try and do something. Take the initiative and really find where you fit in on the ship; because sometimes there's only so much someone can teach you before you have to step up and take it on yourself."

Port Authority of New South Wales (Port Authority) is a state-owned corporation which manages the navigation, security, and operational safety needs of commercial shipping in Sydney Harbour, Port Botany, Port Kembla and the ports of Newcastle, Eden and Yamba.