Industry Gains, Jobs, Awareness, Scholarships June 22, 2014
To illustrate the synergy of the marine industry with local cities, employment agencies, the educational community and the interest by all in working for job creation, the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) hosted a “Marine Industry Jobs” panel at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center in Dania Beach on June 11, attended by more than 50 industry professionals. MIASF’s Executive Director Phil Purcell and panelists explained the growth of one of the area’s leading industries, offered details on jobs, wages and training programs for those who want to work in the boat business, and launched a program to present six recipients with $1,000 scholarships to be applied in the marine sector.
A first panel discussed the economic importance of the marine industry citing jobs and thousands of businesses and boating’s revenue picture highlighting South Florida. Panelists Dean du Toit of National Marine Suppliers, James Brewer of Derecktor Shipyards and David Coddington of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance offered their perspectives. Du Toit – focused on global opportunities that South Florida can seize by developing our waterfront with the addition of more large slips and their substantial economic impact. In addition, dredging concerns along with the Intracoastal need to be addressed as shoaling and shallow are hindering access to our marinas — Brewer explained the need for best business practices and collaboration of marine interests for goal of greater awareness to our industry’s contributions. Coddington offered ways that cooperation among various regional industries and associations could leverage the success of all.
Growth for the marine industry is tied to the general economy, so the recovery in the nation and Florida since the great recession has created similar gains in sector jobs as well as the need for publicizing the openings and training to prepare workers for them. The panel focused on Developing Talent Through Education and Training with panelists Lisa Morley of Maritime Professional Training, Dr. Dick Dodge of Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center, Ted Davis of South Broward High School, Russell McCaffery of Broward College, and Dr. Jay Lasner of International Crew Training.
Morley said her firm, “Trains 10,000 mariners a year and we work with local and international organizations on safety training. In a very short period of time, our trainees can make $100,000 or more per year. We need to make the community aware of our industry and the tremendous jobs that are available. We need to get kids in school excited about these jobs.”
Comments indicated the wide variety of employment opportunities encompassed by the industry which spans the manufacturing and servicing of recreational boats and yachts, fishing, marinas and storage, accessories and supplies, ancillary support from lending and insurance concerns and more. Dodge pointed out, “We instruct our students on ecological resources, their use and sustainability. Our students go to jobs with NOAA, Fish & Wildlife agencies, private consulting and engineering companies.”
Significant demand for crewmembers to run and staff yachts that travel the globe is another unique sector that has a strong base in the south Florida region. “We train crew for three categories of employment – deck, engineering and interior service/hospitality,” explained Lasner.
From an educational perspective, the marine industry is reaching out to secondary schools, community colleges and universities for training and certification needs and offering to work with them to develop programs and curriculums. Broward College’s McCaffery said its programs are helping the marine industry focus on the technical side of education curriculum development. “It is a never-ending process to keep up. We have shorter-term certificate programs that are affordable and add value to our Associates degrees. And we need adjunct instructors to teach marine industry practices,” he added.
At the secondary level, “South Broward High School supports the Cambridge Marine Science Program for our magnet students,” noted Davis. “We also participate in the MIASF plywood regatta. We are establishing our first senior program in global logistics and supply as have a new course of study in maritime technology. In all, we have four marine tracks at South Broward High School.”
MIASF is encouraging students to consider the marine field through the awarding of scholarships. Recent scholarship awards recognized at Nova Southeastern University included one for studying the effect of the invasive lionfish on reef ecosystems, another examining protection of shallow reefs, and another assessing survival of coral reefs in relation to ocean warming trends.
In terms of publicizing jobs, MIASF and related marine organizations are developing a resource (on www.miasf.org) to include the member companies offering positions, along with a brief job description and contact persons. It’s estimated that many of the current 250-plus open positions will be posted on the website, serving to connect interested job candidates with employers in the marine industry. Over time, the service is expected to become the de facto source for employment and reference point for the marine industry, agencies and the public.