- Korean Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology that is owned by the South Korean government will partner with Pioneer International University.
- Under the partnership, youths will be trained and capacitated to join the Korean market of sea-men.
A Korean research institute has signed a agreement with Pioneer International University to train over 400,000 Kenyan students in maritime courses.
Korean Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology that is owned by the South Korean government, will partner with the university to train youthful Kenyans and capacitate them to join the Korean market of sea-men.
With a population of over 51 million people, South Korea has been struggling with chronic shortages of skilled workers in blue collar jobs as most Koreans prefer white collar jobs.
This has adversely affected the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, prompting the government to increase the number of visas issued to foreign skilled workers from 2,000 last year to 30,000 this year.
The Asian country is among the top ship-building nations globally with its Busan Port being on the top six container ports.
In 2020, the maritime industry accounted for 10 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product after contributing about US$1.6 trillion through shipbuilding, marine biotechnology and shipping.
Its ship-building industry has experienced a steady decline of its labour force from 233,000 people in 2015 to 137,000 in 2021.
KIMFT president Prof Park Jinsoo who led a delegation of officials on a visit of Pioneer International University on Monday, said the partnership will help many Kenyans access jobs.
“We have an opportunity to work together and this is just the initial stages of the partnership as we make steps towards understanding each other before dealing with the corporate issues,” he said at the university’s Murang’a campus.
He said South Korea needs qualified workers and that through the partnership, Kenyans will be trained and helped to get jobs in the Korean maritime and shipping industry.
South Korea, he said, was one of the poorest countries in the world decades ago but managed to rise to a middle level economy in the 1990s.
He noted that the partnership will provide a chance for the Asian nation to share its experiences with the university and the Kenyan government for the benefit of Kenyans.
Pioneer International University’s vice chancellor Gideon Maina said the partnership stemmed from his visit to the Asian country last month on a benchmarking tour on the blue economy.
During his visit, Maina met members of Korean Ship Owners Association that brings together over 300 ships.
“The chairperson gave me an assurance that the association will be recruiting trained Kenyans for the next five years.”
The university has been offering a short Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping course in its Murang’a campus that is required for anybody seeking employment in a yacht or ship.
The course that lasts about seven days is globally administered and ensures a lateral standard of training is achieved across all countries, and is approved by the International Maritime Organisation.
Maina said the university graduates about 10 students each week for the short course.
“In my visit to South Korea, I found people earning over Sh100,000 in low cadre jobs such as security guards in the maritime sector. Those in more specialised positions earn so much more.”
As such, the university is now planning to roll out a Bachelor of Science in Maritime Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Maritime Transport next year.
“As an institution, we will partner with South Korea to try and get to where they are and help lift the standards of living for many Kenyans,” he said.
Maina urged youths to take advantage of the course to save themselves from the yolk of joblessness.
The university’s chancellor Peter Munga said the partnership is expected to bring about transformation in the institution and the country.
“The university is venturing into a course that no other private university in the East African region has charted especially when we start training maritime engineers.”
The university also plans to start offering a Korean language course to ensure those who access jobs in the Asian country are able to easily adapt.
Munga said accessing jobs in the maritime sector could help reduce the high level of joblessness among youths in the country and boost the economy.