With just a fraction of the maritime workforce younger than 25 years of age, the industry looks to garner more interest for jobs up for grabs as the nation's largest port for imports anticipates an overwhelming amount of traffic.
Industry training demands across the Houston region are rising in preparation for the 2014 expansion of the Panama Canal. With less than 1 percent of the workforce barely reaching their mid 20s, according to a WorkBoat magazine study, and more than half of workers nearing retirement age, the need to certify more mariners becomes increasingly apparent.
“We must get the next generation interested in the many careers maritime has to offer,” said Capt. Mitch Schacter, director of the College’s maritime training program through the Continuing and Professional Development division. “The maritime industry is one of those rare industries where students can go to a maritime trade school, like ours, and go to work at age 18, or they may study in our new associate degree program and start a little higher, or they can pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree program at a federal maritime academy and start as an officer. Any one of these routes will get a mariner where he or she wants to go in this industry.”
A variety of onshore and offshore positions exist within maritime, from deckhand to able bodied seaman, and making captain can be attainable after five years along with a $100,000 paycheck for those who work their way up in the ranks, according to Schacter. Opportunities like these go relatively unknown to high school students.
"The maritime trades offer great pay, generous time off and the opportunities to quickly advance," said Gordie Keenan, vice president of training and credentialing with Higman Marine Services. “The industry is in continual need for new mariners. In their daily routines, students are exposed to many types of careers like doctors, teachers, engineers, etc., and there are few opportunities to be exposed to the maritime professions. Students are unaware of the opportunities available."