Bangalore: Quality standards in maritime training in India may improve because the directorate general of shipping has decided to make available online how institutes have fared in terms of providing on-board training to students.

Greater share: India is looking to raise its global market share of seafarers to 9% by 2015. Photo: Charles Pertwee/Bloomberg

“The placement record will give an indication to parents and students about the credibility of the institute and whether the institute is able to provide on-board training or not," said S.K. Jaiswal, additional director general of shipping.

India allowed private institutes to impart sea training in the late 1990s. The country has some 131 maritime training institutes, who need to place students on ships as trainees after classroom instruction and before they can appear for their examinations.

“This will lead to a shakeout in the industry," said S. Bhardwaj, vice chancellor of Chennai-based AMET University.

“Training institutes will have to pull up their socks," said M.C. Yadav, director, maritime education and training, at FOSMA Maritime Institute and Research Organization.

The focus earlier was on churning out seafarers without bothering about quality, as India looked for quick results to supply manpower to the global maritime industry, said Satish Agnihotri, India’s director general of shipping.

“As a result, a message went out to the private training institutes that the sector is open for profiteering and not profit-making. From boom time, we are moving to recession. Times have changed. I see an opportunity to calibrate my seafaring supply side mechanism," he said. “I have absolutely no problem with profit-making but have every problem with profiteering. Shipboard training berths needs to be drastically increased. We have taken steps to bring in training commitments by Indian ship owners."

The move comes at a time when India is looking to raise its global market share of seafarers to 9% by 2015. There are about 82,000 India-born seafarers , or about 6% of the global seafaring professionals, according to a 2010 report by consultancy firm McKinsey & Co.

On-board training has become a big obstacle for students looking for a career at sea with the backlog of those waiting to undergo the mandatory requirement running into a few thousands.

“The problem of insufficient training berths on board ships is one of the major bottlenecks in generating more number of qualified seafarers," said S. Hajara, chairman and managing director of state-run Shipping Corp. of India Ltd, India’s biggest ship owner.

Unlike other professional courses, students are stuck if they don’t get a training berth on-board ships, said Manish Singh, group business development director, Asia, for V Ships Group, the world’s biggest provider of crews for cargo ships, oil tankers and ferries.

“By putting placement records online, you will possibly weed out fly-by-night institutes," Singh said. “It’s a step in the right direction, but not a full solution to the problem."

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