Matching competencies with responsibilities

There will never be an ‘over-kill’ on the issue of sourcing for and making good use of competent personnel to handle work demands.

Institutions and corporate organizations are able to build strong brands that people identify with due to results that they deliver. In like manner, some institutions have lived in ‘past glory’ when nothing was done to keep updated with new developments and approaches.

With an industry as the maritime, which demands precision and competency to steer, loose ends must be tidied to ensure that competent people in terms of knowledge and skills take up the responsibility of offering the services as are needed.

While several capacity building programmes take place, it is also necessary and important to ensure that people who apply for different positions of operations in the maritime industry are exposed to relevant trainings.

Owing to its size, the maritime industry has sub-service sectors where personnel are needed, many of which are filled by people who are believed would ‘learn on the job.’

Even in stevedoring services where it is assumed that people could be put on the job, it is important to note that those who are trained for such jobs would perform better.

It is not enough to have an education in a particular discipline, but importantly, skills to sharpen competency for specific responsibility should count.

Maritime safety and development in shipping as a sector cannot be divorced from ensuring that competency to handle given responsibilities is effective. A commitment to professionalism will always inform the need to insist on engaging competent personnel for assignments.

Thinking along this line, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, at a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos, called for an overhauling of the system. He advised the present management of the Council to do away with those he described as ‘dead woods.’ In one word, Sarumi wants the Council to make its marks using competent hands.

Over time, several experiences around the world have indicated incompetency on the part of some people who were saddled with the responsibility of tasks that they could not actually handle.

A quick example that comes to mind is the frequency of boat mishaps locally and internationally. People believe in error that with little or no training they could steer a boat across the water. They however run into challenges that result in fatalities when a technical fault arises.

In some cases, there may be those who were trained in a discipline, but who had, over time, lost touch of the latest requirements for the job. This may not be doubted in cases of people who may have been out of a job for very long before returning to it.

For such people who may need to refresh their knowledge, it is also important that they are put to test and confirmed as competent to handle a responsibility before they be assigned.

As a reference point in this regard, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) responded to a needs area when on December 18, 2013, it launched the electronic seafarers’ Certificate of Competency (CoC), an online application system to allow stakeholders verify the authenticity of the seafarers’ certificates from any part of the world.

Without praise-singing, the agency has simply pursued a well-meaning initiative in line with acceptable international best practice. The development is one that businesses in shipping operations should take advantage of to get the best hands to manage their businesses.

The agency, during the 2014 maritime expo, explained to stakeholders, the efforts it made to ensure that it sourced and engaged competent hands to manage areas that needed people with high technical skills.

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