Aleksandr A. Lentarev

Admiral Nevelskoy Maritime State University, Vladivostok

Abstract: This paper discusses the features of the existing systems of training of seafarers in the world. A comparative analysis of training systems was carried out according to the main parameters characterizing these systems, in particular, the type of education, organizational structure, level of education, ownership of marine educational institutions, the management of marine education, the military component of marine education, the role of English and international cooperation

Keywords: seafarer, training, STCW convention, instructor, examiner, education system, marine institute, marine school, competency


Unlike many specialties in the field of traditional vocational education, training in maritime specialties is carried out within the framework of a sufficiently strict international regulation, the content of which is determined by the International Convention on the Training, Certification of Seafarers and Watchkeeping of 1978, with amendments (STCW Convention).

The amendments adopted in 1995, the STCW Convention provides three levels of professional training (management, operation and support) for seven functions that ensure the efficient operation of the vessel (navigation, cargo handling and stowage, controlling the operations of the ship and care for persons on board, marine engineering, electrical, electronic and control engineering, maintenance and repair, radio communications). Сoncerning each level and function, the Сonvention defines necessary competencies, for which, in turn, the appropriate knowledge, understanding and professional skills are established, as well as criteria and methods for demonstrating competence [1].

Despite the strict regulation of the content of seafarers’ training, the STCW Convention recommends that its requirements should be implemented within the framework of national educational systems (Section B-1/8, paragraphs 3 and 5). In practice, this leads to the fact that the same requirements of the Сonvention in different countries are implemented in different conditions, with regard to the timing and structure of training, the form of management, harmonization with academic education, logistics and training, etc.

The purpose of this work is to perform a comparative analysis of the world’s existing systems for seafarers’ training according to the most important parameters which determine the main characteristics of these systems. Many of these parameters are traditionally used in studies of this kind, for example [2-4]. The results are based on the analysis of training systems for seafarers in 40 countries, which supply more than 90.5 % of seafarers to the world market.

The aim of this work is to perform a comparative analysis of the systems existing in the world for training seafarers according to the most important parameters that determine the main characteristics of these systems. Many of these parameters are traditionally used in studies of this kind, for example, [2-4]. The presented results are based on the analysis of seafarers’ training systems in 42 countries of the world, which supply more than 90 % seafarers to the world market.

Comparative analysis of main parameters

Type of education

Marine education, implemented in world practice, in particular, seafarers’ training, can be classified as follows:

– Maritime university education, when the necessary condition for obtaining a marine professional diploma of the level of operation or management (certificate of competency) is an academic degree of a bachelor, master or doctor. Such education corresponds to the status of higher education;

– Maritime vocational education, when obtaining a certificate of competency does not require an academic degree, but is tied to obtaining an educational diploma (for example, diplomas of a navigator technician or navigator engineer in Russia). Seafarers’ training is a type of vocational education and training (VET). Maritime vocational education may have the status of higher education, if so provided for by national legislation on education;

– Primary maritime education, when training within the educational program is completed by receiving only a qualification document, for example, qualification certificate of an able seaman deck;

– Marine additional vocational education, within the framework of which skills development and special (including simulator) training of officers and ordinary sailors, necessary for working on specialized vessels, with new equipment, in special conditions, is provided.

In countries where seafarers’ training is realized, as a rule, all four types of maritime education exist. In most cases of university education (more than 80%), the training of marine officers with higher education is limited by the academic level of the bachelor. However, in some countries, in particular, in Spain and Croatia, the achievement of the upper steps of the marine career is accompanied by a gradual increase in the level of academic education according to the “bachelor – master – doctor” scheme.

Organizational structure

Maritime university education in most cases is implemented either directly at the university, or in structural subdivisions (college, institute, academy or faculty) that are part of a university (for example, the Australian Maritime College of the University of Tasmania, Institute of Marine Research at the University of Lagos, Faculties of Maritime Studies at Croatian Universities). At the same time, in some countries (Greece, Poland, Belgium, Egypt), there are colleges, academies or institutes that have university status, which allows them to assign academic degrees.

Maritime vocational education is implemented in educational organizations that do not have a university status, and the names of which are associated with the specifics of national educational systems (colleges, institutes, academies, higher (marine) maritime schools). The successful completion of an educational program in such an educational organization is accompanied by the receipt of a special document provided for by national legislation (for example, a “technician of the highest level” after completing a vocational Institute in Chile or a “technician” after graduating from a maritime technical school in Poland). With few exceptions (e.g. some countries in Africa), there are institutions of higher education, both university and vocational, in countries where marine officers are trained.

In recent decades, vocational educational institutions have appeared in many countries that train marine officers in the shortest possible time, practically according to the IMO model courses 7.03 and 7.04, i.e. in two years (without taking into account seagoing practice). These include, for example, maritime vocational schools of higher education in Turkey.

The purpose of primary maritime education is to train ordinary members of ship crew. Primary maritime education institutions have a different organizational structure, which is determined by the type and number of training programs implemented, and different names that meet the requirements of national legislation (maritime schools in Sweden and Denmark, nautical schools in Spain and Portugal, maritime technical schools in Poland, marine technical schools in China).

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