Students’ Perceptions of Marine Careers Provide Insight into Workforce Challenges
Despite the recent growth and attention on the marine industry in Nova Scotia, a new study by the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) finds that interest in career opportunities among students remains low.
The Student Intentions and Perceptions Study found that only 12 per cent of Grade 6–12 English, French and Mi’kmaq Kina’matneway students in Nova Scotia are interested in the career opportunities in the marine industry.
Led by Dr. Sherry Scully, Director of Learning and Organizational Development at COVE, the voluntary study measures students’ attitudes and perceptions of marine-related and trades/technology careers in Nova Scotia. The study was conducted in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) and funded through an ongoing partnership with Irving Shipbuilding.
Findings show that awareness, understanding and interest in marine sector careers continue to be low with most students. While more than four in five students (84 per cent) are aware of marine-related career opportunities with the navy, only three in five identify as having ever heard of shipbuilding (60 per cent), commercial fishing (60 per cent), marine transportation (60 per cent), marine engineering (51 per cent) and ocean science and research (62 per cent). Awareness of careers in emerging regional sectors such as aquaculture (32 per cent), ocean technology (29 per cent), marine robotics (29 per cent) and naval architecture (41 per cent) ranked among the lowest.
The findings will help inform future targeted messaging, and career and ocean literacy programs. The study also shows that there is an opportunity to increase awareness of marine-related career opportunities.
Results in the 2019 study are aligned with those from a similar 2016 study by Scully. The 2019 study summarizes data captured from the original sample group who are now in grades 9–12 to gain insights into if and how attitudes, perceptions and intentions have shifted, as well as the current grade 6–8 cohort to compare with the same grade grouping from the original study.
“Understanding the perceptions of marine-related and trades/technology careers among today’s youth provides useful insights to inform recommendations for the design of future awareness and career development programs to help us shift the dial on this workforce challenge,” says Scully. “We found the results from this study are consistent with those from the original 2016 study. However, there were significant changes with older students having less interest in leaving the province for work or study and showing more interest in pursuing different career pathways after high school.”
EPA Plans to Provide Relief for U.S. Lobster Boats
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. recently proposed to amend the National Marine Diesel Engine Program for Maine lobster fishermen.
The amendment is meant to provide relief to boat builders and manufacturers of engines that are used in commercial lobster fishing vessels.
“This proposed rule will give boat builders and Maine’s lobster fishermen regulatory certainty and encourage continued progress for cleaner diesel engines,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro.
“This action is a win-win for builders and lobstermen and allows Maine’s vibrant fishing economy to continue.”
The proposal will assist boat builders that have been negatively impacted by the limited number of certified engines available for the vessels they are looking to produce. With lack of engines that feature the ideal power and size, the new proposal will give boat builders more lead time to meet the EPA’s Tier 4 standards for qualifying engines and vessels.
A new waiver process will also be implemented. It will allow for boats to use Tier 3 engines if proper Tier 4 engines are not available. The new amendment will also feature a streamlined engine certification process.
“Due to the unique design of Maine lobster boats, at this time there are not Tier 4-compliant diesel engines available on the market that can safely fit in these types of vessels. This delay in the implementation of the Tier 4 emission standards for commercial lobster-style boats should provide engine manufacturers time to design and certify engines that will both comply with Tier 4 emission standards and work safely and efficiently in these boats. It also prevents lobstermen from being burdened by requirements that are impossible to meet with the currently available technology,” said U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden in a joint statement.