Thousands of Kenyans to fill seafarer jobs in global ships


Singapore flagged vessel Mv NYK Clara docked at the port of Mombasa on June 25, 2021, after it made its maiden call. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG

Thousands of Kenyans are set to be employed as seafarers in global shipping lines. This comes barely two years after the government entered a partnership with different shipping lines to create jobs under the blue economy sector.

In the next two weeks, the government intends to recruit 2,000 youths across the country with the first cohort of 805 already recruited, and are set to work in Royal Caribbean Cruises.

“In the next five years, Kenya intends to recruit 15,000 youth to not only work in cruise ships but also container ships, oil tankers, loose cargoes and fishing vessels because these are high yielding jobs,” said Shipping and Maritime Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu.

The head of the Oceans and Blue Economy General (Rtd) Samson Mwathethe said the government will support and encourage Royal Caribbean, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and all other cruise ships to open new crew manning offices in Kenya to recruit the youth. Recruitment in Nairobi is set to begin this week.

“It is because of these interventions and commitment by the State and good performance of the young people who have preceded you that Royal Caribbean Cruises is here to recruit,” Mr Mwathethe added, noting that there is a global shortage of seafarers.

“We are targeting to recruit thousands of Kenyans to work on cruise ships. We appeal to Kenyans especially in the hospitality sector to retool themselves to ensure they meet the standards required to get these jobs,” he said.

He said the government is reviving the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) to leverage its hospitality advantage to create jobs for the youth.

“We are targeting 15,000 jobs and sea time training opportunities over the next five years for our youth. Bandari Maritime Academy is being prepared to be a regional centre of excellence for maritime training,” said Mr Mwathethe.

He said the office of the Oceans and Blue Economy was created to mainstream the significant work essential to Kenya to benefit from its marine resources. Its key mandate, he noted, is to ensure sustainable commercialisation of Kenya’s blue resources to attract investment, create jobs and enhance revenue from the sector.

Ms Karigithu said blue economy jobs are lucrative, urging youth to tap into the sector.

“The government is putting efforts to ensure we revive the tourism sector through the blue economy,” said Ms Karigithu.

“We used to be a seafaring country with more than 10,000 seafarers working on board different vessels abroad. You could go to ports in the UK or the US and meet Kenyans working on the ships. But that stopped and it takes a long time to start again.”

If you lose your reputation in this industry it takes 50 years to rebuild.”

She urged Kenyans to come out for the recruitment.

Ms Karigithu further warned the youth against engaging in drug abuse saying they will miss job opportunities due to the vice.

“You will undergo a random drug test so please be careful and mindful of your future. Parents allow children to study technical courses including beauty or nail polishing,” said Ms Karigithu.

Dock Workers Union (DWU) secretary-general Simon Sang lauded the state for reviving KNSL.

“This industry has been neglected for a long time. It was only in 2016 that the government began putting efforts to revive it. We have now turned our faces towards the sea,” said Mr Sang.

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