Italian ship owners need more than 20,000 seafarers and they want Filipinos for the job.
At a press conference at the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) building in Makati on Monday, Registro Italiano Navale (or RINA) launched the Italian Maritime Academy Philippines Inc. (IMA-Philippines) to evaluate Filipino seafarers who could man Italian vessels.
“We have many new vessels, but we don’t have many qualified and experienced seafarers as Italians are not so much interested in working on ships,” said Robert Cazullo, chairman of the newly established IMA-Philippines.
“I think this is the big challenge for us.” Cazullo said within three years or by 2010, they will be recruiting more foreign seafarers, particularly Filipinos, to fill the 20,000 backlog for seamen in Italy brought about by the overproduction of vessels.
“We believed (Filipino seafarers) are the most competent seafarers in lower rank, at present,” he said. “Through IMA-Philippines, we would be able to produce seafarers for the high level positions. We will be updating their knowledge on rules and regulations to meet international standards.”
Italy has been building more ships, particularly cruise and passenger vessels, and in the near future the so-called “gash ships” and other chemical carrier vessels, Cazullo said.
Ugo Salerno, RINA’s chief executive officer, said Italian ship owners want to make sure that the right people run the many vessels they have produced.
“To have the right people to run these vessels, we decided to establish the Italian Maritime Academy Philippines Inc.,” he said.
“We believed that by mixing skilled Filipino seafarers and our equipment, we will be able to do better in shipping industries. RINA is the oldest classification society established in 1861 whose task is to provide quality sea vessels.”
Salerno said RINA has the backing of wealthy and top Italian ship owners, who conduct business all over the world.
“What we need to do is to upgrade their level of expertise and skills,” he said. “The Philippines is the right place to establish a training center like this.”
The Italian Ship Owners Association or Confitarma preferred Filipino seafarers, whom they consider to be the best rank-and-file seamen worldwide, Salerno said.
Capt. Teofilo Nieto Jr., IMA-Philippines’ training director, said their firm will serve as the graduate school for experienced Filipino seafarers who want to achieve higher levels of competence and eventually be accommodated by Italian ship owners.– Jose Rodel Clapano, Philippine Star