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Maritime studies programme shortlisted for award

A successful South African educational programme which equips teenagers with maritime skills while they are still at school, has been shortlisted for an international award.

The Simon's Town-based Lawhill Maritime Studies programme, which was pioneered in the mid-90s, has not only consistently improved the employment prospects of hundreds of young South Africans leaving school each year, but it has also demonstrated the value and potential of partnerships between the private sector and an educational institution in addressing one of South Africa's most pressing social issues, namely unemployment and poverty.

Brian Ingpen, head of the Lawhill Maritime Centre, says the high number of South African school leavers versus the limited number of available employment opportunities emphasises the importance of establishing more, innovative, industry-funded educational partnerships and curricula which not only prepare young people for employment both locally and abroad, but which also encourage entrepreneurial thinking.

Addressing skills shortage

Ingpen says the shortlisting of the Lawhill programme for the 2012 Seatrade Investment in People Award is recognition that Lawhill is helping to address the skills shortage in the maritime industry by creating opportunities for young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to pursue a career in a growing and important industry. The Lawhill Maritime Centre is entirely funded by the shipping industry and Safmarine, a pioneer of the maritime studies programme, has been one of its most loyal supporters.

"Supporting education by giving our youth the skills and opportunities they need for a fair chance to succeed in life is not only a priority in a country such as South Africa, but particularly important considering South Africa's current high rate of unemployment which is the main reason an estimated 40% to 50% of South Africans live in poverty," says Safmarine Southern Africa cluster manager, Jonathan Horn.

According to Safmarine CEO, Grant Daly, the success of the Lawhill programme is yet another example of Safmarine's sustainable partnership approach, an approach they don't only apply to their business and relationships with customers, but also to their dealings with local communities around the world. "As such, we are delighted that this programme which has helped so many young South Africans find meaningful and productive employment, has once again received international recognition."

The winners of the 2012 Seatrade Investment in People Award will be announced at a gala function in London's Guildhall on 14 May.

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