Opportunities for youth and small businesses in maritime

Stakeholders are looking to develop SA's maritime sector, which has career and skills development opportunities for youth, says an industry representative.

Last month, the Dutch Consulate met with the Western Cape Maritime Cluster at the Damen Shipyards in Cape Town to discuss business opportunities in SA's maritime sector.

Fifty high-performing students from the top-performing economically disadvantaged high schools in the broader Cape Town area were invited, according to event organisers. They toured the harbour and attended workshops on career opportunities in the industry.

"Maritime has the potential to provide new opportunities for SA’s talented youth population to explore the ocean’s economy as a part of their professional futures.

"The Netherlands mission in South Africa recognises the significant value in investing in skills development and is proud to be a partner in this initiative," said Sebastiaan Messerschmidt, Netherlands Consul General.

Benny Bhali, chairperson of the Western Cape Maritime Cluster, said a concerted effort was required for enterprise development. Bhali said the ocean was filled with opportunity and Cape Town was ideally positioned to drive growth.

He told Fin24 there were opportunities for small businesses in particular to act as suppliers for the maritime industry. The maritime cluster wants to focus on supplier development.

"We want companies in the Western Cape to understand that maritime is not just a local industry, but a global industry," he said.

The cluster also aims to help small, established businesses expand their operations through workshops to improve skills: for example, filing tax returns or understanding the Companies Act, he said.

He said the cluster did not charge small businesses a fee. It’s a matter of working collaboratively to drive growth, in line with the president's economic stimulus package objectives.

"We have a [growth] problem. We can’t continue to think about the problem – we need to find solutions to address it," he said.

* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER