Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Officials of various shipping lines on Monday assured the maritime training institute officials that they would continue to use the recessionary period as an opportunity to equip the seafarers and would not resort to cost-cutting.

Interacting with AMET University chancellor J. Ramachandran, they said the maritime industry was facing an acute shortage of seafarers, estimated to be between 50,000 and 80,000 worldwide, and the numbers might increase, if they failed to use this opportunity. The industry was facing the shortage as it failed to take precautionary measures when it was on the upswing.

Mr. Ramachandran said the university was making efforts to help the seafarers continue their training even during the recessionary period. The University was also starting fresh management courses in international business, banking and finance and e-learning. “Most of the time, they are in the high seas. The course in e-learning will enable them to become net savvy and take up distance and continuing education during their free time.”

Dispelling fears that the recruitment would take a beating because of the recession, he said that even the first-year students have been chosen by leading firms and they would join the force by 2010-2011. As of now, all 400 students had been placed.

Mr. Ramachandran said the university had postponed the opening of its branch in New Delhi at least by 12 months, owing to the recessionary trend. Initially, it was planned to accommodate 200 seafarers. The representative of the logistics sector said that in every crisis, one should go in for cost-cutting and find ways to come out with innovative solutions.

P. Misra, Principal Officer-cum-Joint DG (Tech), Mercantile Marine Department, said that in the next five years, most of the mariners would have gained experience in non-shipping areas.