Charting a Course
New curriculum from MARAD aims to spark
high school students’ interest in maritime jobs
By MATT HILBURN, Special Correspondent
schools with maritime education
programs during a Maritime
Curriculum Summit last August.
The summit also brought together
representatives from maritime
academies, maritime labor unions,
shipyards, shipping companies and
other industry officials.
“The curriculum is quite good
and thorough,” said Arthur H.
Sulzer, a board member of the
Maritime Academy Charter School
in Philadelphia, who has been a
staunch advocate of maritime education programs. “The coalition is
actually developing the courses that go with this curriculum — the real meat of the program.
“The first course for ninth grade, ‘Introduction to
General Maritime Studies and Careers,’ will be out
later this month and is being tested over the next few
months by several schools,” he said.
All of this comes at a time when, despite a sagging
economy now, there is expected to be a huge growth in
maritime jobs in the near future. According to
MARAD, 30 percent of today’s mariners are nearing
retirement age. At the same time, the volume of cargo
moved by ship — both international and domestic —
is increasing at a staggering rate.
In 2005, the Baltic and International Maritime Council
(BIMCO) and the International Shipping Federation estimated that a shortage at that time of 10,000 maritime officers would increase to 27,000 by 2015. Current estimates
from industry vary widely, but are all higher, with some
predicting a shortage of 90,000 mariners by 2015.
“Opportunities for American mariners have opened
up worldwide, partly because of the excellent training
Americans receive,” said MARAD Administrator Sean T.
Connaughton. “This curriculum will help ensure that
the United States will continue to furnish the worldwide
industry mariners with the best training possible.”
A new maritime high school curriculum is designed to help standardize maritime study programs and give all students a basic
understanding of the Marine Transportation System.
■ The curriculum was developed by a coalition of players, including educators, labor representatives and industry officials.
■ Actual courses are nearing the testing stage.
■ Curriculum will improve education even if students do not elect
to pursue a maritime job.
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD)
recently unveiled a new maritime high school
curriculum officials hope will spark interest
in, and prepare students for, careers in the maritime
industry, a field that is expected to see a global shortage of skilled employees in the coming years.
The curriculum will provide an opportunity for students to learn about, discover and virtually explore the
various components of the maritime industry, as well as
raise awareness about maritime career paths and employment options, according to Jean McKeever, who works at
MARAD’s Office of Business and Workforce Development.
A number of schools around the country have incorporated their own, often disparate, programs of maritime
study, McKeever said. And at least 18 specialized maritime high schools have opened their doors in the United
States in the last decade, with more in the planning stages.
To date, however, there has been no standardized
curriculum for these schools or programs. The new
curriculum, which is designed to be used in part or
whole by any school, outlines courses to give all students a basic understanding of the Marine Transportation System.
Creating the curriculum involved many players,
McKeever said. MARAD reached out to numerous high