Various players of the country's crewing business have banded together to maintain and expand the multi-million dollar maritime labor market, which competitors in Asia and Eastern Europe are slowly snatching the business away.
Domestic shipping operators, maritime schools and trainings centers, and manning agents alike agreed that the Philippines crewing industry is losing to foreign competition, prompting them to call for a clean up of the industry of all semblance of greed and corruption.
To parry the threat they have formed the Philippine Seafarers Promotion Council (PSPC), which is composed of major associations in the ship owning and manning sectors, with the goal to maintain and expand the global dominance of Filipino seafarers in the world's merchant marine fleet.
One of the leading goals of the PSC's strategic plan is the creation of a "One-stop-shop" processing center in seafarers' deployment. The idea is to do away with bureaucratic delays and corruption in the processing and documentation of seafarers, which are some of the reasons ship owners and ship managers are turning to other labor supplying countries.
PSPC intends to carry out marketing of the Filipino seafarer aggressively and promote seafaring as a career. It also aims to promote "best work practices and ethics among seafarers" and ensure highest standards of training and education.
Doris Magsaysay-Ho, president of Philippine Inter-island Shipping Association president and the organizing chairperson of PSPC, says the country's crewing sector faces what any mature industry years. "We have grown to such a position that we have become complacent," Ho told a PSPC workshop, adding that "we have compromised the level and quality of our service deliveries to the world's fleet and their ship operators."
The PSPC, which held a visioning workshop last week, has called for improvements in the present maritime educational system, doubling the number of qualified Filipino officers by end of 2006, as well as the number of professional ratings and cruise personnel by end of 2003.
Last week's workshop follows a two-week pre-conference sessions that dutifully identified key areas of the industry in which organizers now work on. These are human resource development, business processes and systems improvement, financial sustainability, and stakeholder satisfaction.
"If we are to save this industry, we have to move now. An action plan maybe too late because we should have done our homework five years ago," says Vincente Aldanese, president of Filipino Association for Mariners' Employment (FAME).
FAME, which conducted a survey among its more than 90 m embers, showed that
50 of them lost some 6,300 slots to other Asia, Eastern European and Chinese competition over the last two years.