The Maritime Academy of Toledo (TMAT) hosted a career day on Friday, May 16, 2014, which drew about a dozen maritime companies, unions, schools, and military recruiters.
TMAT is trying to drum up career opportunities for its graduates in the face of explosive job growth in the maritime industry.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the maritime industry will experience 20 percent job growth by 2020, while at the same time warning that not enough people are being educated in that field to meet the expected demand. Much of that job growth is occurring as baby-boomers are retiring. According to school officials, the Maritime Administration in Washington, D.C. has issued a directive to companies in the maritime industry to diversify its workforce—by hiring more minorities and women.
TMAT is helping to diversify the potential employment pool. Among its 225 students, 41 percent are African-American, while one out of every five students is Latino (20 percent). 87 percent of the student body lives at or below the poverty line.
20-year old Henry Brown, a 2012 Maritime Academy graduate, spoke with students about his experience working as a deckhand on Great Lakes freighters, earning an average of $1,500 per week. He credited his grandmother with enrolling him in the charter school.
“She thought it would be a good school for us to attend,” he recalled. “She always liked the charter schools—and Toledo Public Schools didn’t have this type of school. I got used to it and got to like the nautical things they were having. I just wanted to keep going back and back and learn more.”
Brown, who enrolled at Maritime Academy in eighth grade, later joined the Career Tech Education (CTE) program, three years of intense study in Deck, Engine, or Culinary. When students complete the CTE program and graduate, they have over 30 semester hours of college, and a litany of international maritime credentials that makes them ready to go to work in the maritime industry directly out of high school. Brown was hired a year ago.
“It helped me get my manager’s license and helped me progress in life, what I wanted to do in life,” he said. “I’ve been ship-to-ship, and I’ve been on four or five ships so far.”
His ship assignments have run anywhere from two weeks to four or five months at a time. He’s done everything from “cleaning, chipping paint, a lot of painting, loading and unloading cargo.”
“It’s wonderful. I love the pay. Sometimes the people on the boat are wonderful to work with, to talk to,” Brown said. “If you don’t have any clue what you’re doing out there, there are guys who have been working 20, 30 years out there, you can go to those guys and ask them what’s going on.”
He now hopes to make a 30-year career out of the maritime industry himself. He wants to continue his schooling and keep progressing in that career field.
“My goal is to become captain of one of the ships,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to travel and explore, see things—especially if you’ve never been out of your home city.”
Brown stated that his job is hard work, but he gets overtime and makes good money for the effort.
“The maritime industry pays some of the highest entry-level wages,” said Rick Brown, CTE program director at the Maritime Academy. “This is an excellent opportunity for our students to secure good paying jobs once they graduate.”
Those attending the career day included representatives from: the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, The Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Keystone Shipping, Andrie Transportation Group, PMShip, Grand River Navigation Co., as well as unions representing American Maritime Officers (AMO), Masters, Mates and Pilots, and Great Lakes Seaman United Steelworkers Local #5000.
“After three years in our CTE program, a student is prepared to go in several different directions for their maritime career. They are fully-prepared with nearly $6,000 worth of training and International credentials that enable them to secure employment aboard ship, anywhere in the world, right out of high school making upwards of $50,000,” said CTE Director Rick Brown. “Students may continue their maritime education in college to become an officer aboard ship.”
The Maritime Academy of Toledo is a tuition-free, college-prep community school with a nautical-themed environment for students in grades 5-12. The campus, 803 Water St., is housed in the state-of-the-art Maritime Training and Education Center, the former AMO Building which was constructed in 2003 at a cost of $10 million. The Maritime Academy bought the building from the AMO Union three years ago for $2.5 million.
According to Renee Marazon, TMAT president, the school also emphasizes its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs through innovative simulation technologies and teachers integrate nautical/maritime themes across a curriculum that is aligned with Ohio core standards.
“Some people believe that because we are a maritime school that we are only training students to go to work in the maritime industry,” said Ms. Marazon. “The fact is that we have outstanding marine and environmental science programs where students utilize our own research vessel Mariner I to do research. This is just one of the many examples of our well-rounded educational curriculum.”
Families interested in more information, can call the school at 419-244-9999 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.