A very good morning to you all!
Last year I attended the graduation ceremony and I was immensely proud to see the number of students including women, where were part of the graduating class. Today during my tour of Kingston as part of my Jamaica 50 Parish Tours, I am pleased to visit with you.
Shipping is one of the world’s oldest industries and according to the International Maritime Organisation, it is responsible for 90% of global trade; and this does not include tourism. Seafarers and Officers in a variety of disciplines such as those for which you are being prepared here at the Caribbean Maritime Institute, represent the heart of the operations of the shipping industry. Predictions are that by 2015, based on the rate at which new ships are being added to the industry, personnel shortfall could rise worldwide to approximately 27,000 vacancies.
For Jamaica, the expansion of the Panama Canal is another reason for us to beef up our training in the maritime industry. There are significant implications for Jamaica and job opportunities for students. The Government intends to grasp the economic opportunities to be derived from our geographic proximity to the Canal. This should galvanize the CMI into intensive capacity building, so more of our young people can be job ready. So, just in case any student is tempted to ‘jump ship’ where this programme of study is concerned, I would encourage you to remain onboard. Great opportunities await you.
The management, faculty and staff here at the CMI have already demonstrated the institution’s ability to meet the needs of this growing international industry with relative ease, based on the rapid expansion of the institute since inception and the linkages that have been forged with local and international agengies. The CMI’s growth and transformation since it was established as the Jamaica Maritime Training Institute (JMTI) in 1980 is indicative of the strength of its successive leaders and commitment of its staff. Thirty 30 students were enrolled at the start and within five years some 400 persons had been trained in terminal ship agency operations, port security and other areas. This merits commendation.
The expansion has been ongoing, with students also coming from elsewhere in the Caribbean region, hence the rebranding as the Caribbean Maritime Institute. The number of programmes and courses has increased, as have the standards. Last November was a proud moment for the CMI when it graduated its first cohort in the Master of Science Degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management.
The CMI has become so attractive that one high school last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding to become a feeder school for this institution. From as early as first form students will be sensitized about careers in the maritime industry and related areas. Very soon Dr. Pinnock other schools will be knocking at your door.
With your ongoing success has come international recognition and linkages with other countries and international agencies. These include:
- Recognition in 1990 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as the national Centre for delivery of its programmes.
- Academic recognition of the Diploma Course by the World Maritime University in 1998.
- Collaborative relationships with counterpart institutes in other countries.
What is emerging from your achievements and external linkages is the crucial role that has been thrust upon the CMI, to take Jamaica into a new era of development and international relations. Your collaboration with seafaring countries of the world Norway, Netherlands and Canada included, and the initiative to establish a presence in South East Asia, are actions which will grow Brand recognition for Jamaica and open up job opportunities for graduates of the CMI.
Current economic challenges limit Jamaica’s capacity to create new jobs and so our people must be trained to fill positions in technical and skilled areas that are more likely to become available in growth sectors here and overseas. The maritime industry which from all account is growing despite global financial challenges, is part of our hope for the future. Given your track record, the CMI is strategically positioned to lead in the economic recovery and development of Jamaica.
Students, when you graduate you will be entering an international industry in which you will be Ambassadors for your respective countries. In whatever capacity you find yourself, I urge you to serve with integrity, commitment and professionalism. Strive for excellence and success will follow. Teachers, continue to invest in each students as if the survival of your country depends on it.
I thank you for receiving us and wish for everyone at the CMI the best of success in your endeavours.