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  • 10/12/2018 09:34 AM

    Cadetships: “I’m heading to Antarctica… I’m over the moon!”

    Young seafarers face choppy waters when navigating the maritime industry but a new cadet program is set to help aspiring mariners like 25-year-old Matias find their way.

    I grew up being surrounded by the maritime environment — it’s always been a part of my life,” says 25-year-old Queenslander, Matias. “I guess it’s in my blood. My father has always been heavily involved in the maritime industry and now I’m following in his steps and looking to make my own way.”

    Like many aspiring Australian mariners, Matias studied at the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania before looking for the hands-on experience required to progress his career. While finding some initial success through his father’s contacts in Argentina, Matias found it more difficult on home turf in Australia.

    “After the education, it’s difficult to get your foot in the door and find a company who’ll sponsor you so you can get the sea time and practical, hands-on experience you need. It can be a struggle.”

    Matias isn’t alone — finding the practical experience needed to acquire professional accreditation is a common issue for many young people starting out in the maritime industry.

    In response, Port Authority of New South Wales launched a new cadet program earlier this year to help young seafarers and build the Australian maritime skill base. 

    Sponsored cadet programImage: Matias is the first person to join Port Authority of New South Wales’ Sponsored Deck Cadet Program

    The Sponsored Deck Cadet Program was the idea of some of Port Authority’s marine pilots who recognised the need to bring more seafarers into the industry. Through the program, cadets will get their sea-legs through a two-year course that gives them the 18-months of sea-time experience that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) requires for a Watchkeeping Certificate.

    With two initial placements offered at launch, Matias was thrilled to find out he’d been awarded one of the sponsorships.

    “It’s going to give me a lot of experience on a lot of different vessels and surround me with people in the industry,” says Matias. “This is experience that will be really valuable to me, help me learn new skills and open a lot of doors.”

    Matias on a cutter vesselImage: Matias behind the wheel of a Port Authority cutter vessel — used to transfer marine pilots to sea-going vessels

    Port Authority has partnered with a number of shipping companies to offer cadets placements on various merchant ships, backed with the support of a Port Authority mentor. For Matias, his first placement will take him on an adventure all the way to Antarctica.

    “I’ll be on the research and supply vessel Aurora Australis for 10 weeks — I’m over the moon! I’m very fortunate and feel very privileged for this experience. It will be great — even if it will be minus-20 degrees! We’ll be heading to a number of bases such as Casey Station and Davis Station and I’ll be able to pick up so many maritime skills along the way.”

    And these skills will be put to good use, with Matias having already mapped out his maritime career: “After I get my required sea time, I’ll sit more exams to become a second mate; then I’ll get further sea time to continue on to my chief-mate exams and, ultimately, to work my way up to become a ship’s master.”

    It will be a long journey but one that Matias thinks will be worth the wait.

    “A career in maritime depends on what you want in life. If you want to work in a changing, fast-paced and dynamic environment where you get to be at sea and see different parts of the world, then it’s for you.

    “It’s a good profession, where you learn and grow as an individual, learn how to work well with others and learn how to solve problems. It’s an interesting, rewarding and fulfilling line of work — not for the faint-hearted but a fantastic experience.”

    “For me, I’ve always been surrounded by the ocean and I just feel at peace in that environment. I just love being out on the water.”

    Find out more about careers at Port Authority of New South Wales