‘Lankan seafarers capable of bringing $ 1 billion annually into the country, provided they are adequately trained’

Medagama added: ‘At present Sri Lanka has nearly 48,000 seafarers out of which only 16,500 are active seafarers, including 3700 officers. Therefore, English skill is the biggest challenge, which needs to be addressed as soon as possible to deploy them in highly lucrative jobs in the maritime industry.

‘Sri Lanka is situated along the key shipping route between the Malacca Straits and the Suez Canal, which links Asia and Europe. An estimated 36,000 ships, including 4,500 oil tankers, use the route annually. It is not a difficult task, if we could approach decision makers in Korean, Chinese and European shipping lines and promote our seas seafarers in those companies.

‘We need a paradigm shift in this regard. We need to train them in English communication skills, while also training them on the technology aspect with the imparting of concepts like the new technology in green shipping.

‘Sri Lanka’s strength is based on competency, technology skill and loyalty. Apart from that Sri Lanka could be promoted as a shipping manufacturing center in the region but is unable to harness that potential yet.

‘Our industry heads have to give leadership, identify ship owners and give presentations about our seafarers and identify their needs. We need to train them and this will create more employment opportunities. Subsequently, US dollars will come into the country.’

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