Addressing Australia’s Maritime Skills Shortage

Australia is an island nation with over 98% of its trade moving by sea. Approximately $1.2 billion of trade goods move through our Ports every day – but Ports need people with expert maritime skills in order to operate.

Australia is currently facing a critical maritime skills shortage which will ultimately impact the Australian economy. According to Ports Australia, if we do not find a solution to Australia’s maritime skills shortage, we will not have the skilled personnel to operate our most vital trade and economic infrastructure.

Fremantle not-for-profit sail training organisation, Leeuwin Ocean Adventure has teamed up with industry partners Woodside Energy, Riverwijs and Rivtow to deliver a valuable training program for young people in Western Australia.

The Maritime Cadetship program is now in its sixth year and to date has provided 17 young people with the opportunity to learn essential skills and kickstart their maritime careers.

The cadetships are a challenging 12-month program which includes practical sea time on board STS Leeuwin II and coursework to achieve Certificates III in Maritime Operations, supplemented with skills coaching and mentoring from Leeuwin’s crew and staff.

Woodside Energy has provided support for the program since 2015 with Rivtow joining the 2019 program and Riverwijs in 2019 and 2020.

“Our support of the Leeuwin cadetship program aims to help young people gain seafaring experience whilst also helping the maritime industry to access more skilled participants,” said Woodside Port Operations Manager Zubin Bhada.

“We congratulate the 2020 Woodside Marine Cadetship recipients.”

This year’s successful cadetship recipients are Darcy Mair (Woodside), Louis Riboni (Woodside), Mitch Cullen (Woodside) and Tom Keily (Riverwijs cadet).

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Mair is from Noosa Heads in Queensland. Having already sailed on three Leeuwin voyages in 2019, Darcy proved that distance is no hurdle for being a prime candidate for the cadetship program.

“My career goal is to work as a deck officer on foreign going ships, and I believe the Woodside-Leeuwin cadetship would help me develop both personally and professionally within the industry,” Darcy said.

“I’ve already completed over 24 days sea time on the Leeuwin II and an additional 16 days sea time on commercial ships, and I’m really looking forward to expanding my maritime experience over the next 12 months.”

Louis Riboni first experienced a voyage on Leeuwin as part of his Duke of Edinburgh’s International Gold Award in April 2019. Since then, Louis has well and truly caught the tall ship sailing bug, completing two more Youth Explorer Voyages in 2019.

“Having worked with Rottnest Fast Ferries, I have over 400 hours of commercial sea time. I have a real passion for the sea and all of my hobbies involve the ocean – diving, fishing, boating and sailing,” said Louis.

“I am 100% committed to having a career in the maritime industry and believe that Woodside and Leeuwin will help me in furthering my marine pathways and opportunities.”

Mitchell Cullen (25) first joined a Leeuwin voyage back in 2011 sailing from Fremantle to Monkey Mia and has been an active volunteer ever since.

“I have completed 22 voyages and over 50 day sails with Leeuwin to date and have helped out with annual refit and dry docking periods since 2014,” said Mitchell.

“In 2016, I graduated from James Cook University with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Marine Science and Aquaculture Science & Technology. I aspire to combine my degree with maritime qualifications and believe that the Woodside-Leeuwin cadetship is an excellent opportunity to learn and further develop my maritime career.

“I am just beginning my career and this program will provide me with an excellent opportunity to develop and broaden that career, in an environment where I am not only provided with top quality training but also direction and mentorship,” Mitchell added.

Eighteen-year-old Tom Keily is a Karratha local and was sponsored by Riverwijs for his cadetship program.

“I don’t have a marine background, but after my trainee voyages on Leeuwin I learnt that I loved not only being at sea but working on the ship,” said Tom.

“During the cadetship, I’ll develop a wide range of skills that I know I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. I’m also really looking forward to building new relationships – with the other cadets and also professionals in the industry.”

For more information on sponsorships available and Leeuwin Ocean Adventure’s cadetship program, click here.

Caption (from top to bottom): 2020 Cadets Mitch Cullen, Louis Riboni, Darcy Mair and Tom Keily.