Holland America Line sponsors maritime training for St. Maarten Youth
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Holland America Line sponsors maritime training for St. Maarten Youth

One of the young sailors in action. (Photo's contributed.) One of the young sailors in action. (Photo's contributed.)

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Ten local youth have recently started a comprehensive maritime course, which will allow them to obtain multiple local and international certifications.

The 3-month course has been made possible through the collaboration of K1 Britannia Foundation & Kidz at Sea Foundation with Holland America Line as the course sponsor.

Holland America Line reached out to K1 Britannia Foundation in March 2018, enquiring how they could assist the island in its long-term recovery after hurricane Irma. One of the many concerns that were discussed was the lack of employment opportunities post-Irma for Sint Maarten’s youth.

"There are so many ways that we can build back stronger, not only in terms of buildings and infrastructure but in terms of society. K1’s second chance program before Irma had a broad focus; we've had to narrow it down after Irma to focus on the current needs facing our target group of youths, enabling them to get the proper training and opportunities based on the job market on the island” said Alan Schet, Project Manager at K1.

K1’s pre-existing second chance program has been built on the principle of giving youth opportunities; training and mentoring needed to become successful members of society.

As a maritime foundation, getting the youth into the maritime industry, potentially a big job market on the island, as well as abroad has always been a priority. This passion is shared by Kidz at Sea Foundation who focus on exposing local youth to the opportunities in the maritime industry of St. Maarten by offering them unique training opportunities.

After Hurricane Irma, Kidz at Sea and K1 started discussions of how to provide training so that participants would become immediately employable in the maritime industry, especially with the current demand for boat repair. Out of these discussions the idea was formed to create a training program that will offer them certification through the level of Coastal Captain and significant hands on maintenance experience.

Robbie Ferron, President of Sint Maarten Marine Trades Association reiterated the need for participation in the industry: “The board is aware of the shortage of trained personnel in this labor area, especially after hurricane Irma, and believes that this initiative is strategic for the Sint Maarten Economy”.

The idea of this program was then brought to Holland America Line who quickly jumped onboard. They wanted to be part of providing immediate employment and supporting St. Maarten’s recovery efforts from not just an economic perspective but also from a societal perspective.

“Holland America Line is honored to partner with K1 Britannia on its disaster relief efforts. Long term recovery though job creation and a focus on youth is the reason we chose this project. This program is changing lives for these young people” stated Pamela Baade, Corporate Giving Manager of Holland America Line.

The goal of the course is to not only provide training for youth that will enable them to find a job in the short term, but skills and certification that will give them a career for life. Opening them up to a world of possibilities, both in St. Maarten and the rest of the world.

Kidz at Sea has been instrumental in the courses design, having years of experience in giving a variety of maritime courses on the island. “The course will prepare the candidates to slide right in and be able to fill positions in either the day charter, mega yacht or cruise line positions that become available” says founder of Kidz At Sea, Lorraine Talmi.

Court of Guardianship Director Mrs. Richelda Rodriguez-Emmanuel added: “Finding work can be quite a challenge for youngsters, especially those who face additional challenges because of their education level, background and/or family situation. Creating specific opportunities for them is important because they then get a chance to prove themselves and also will be able to contribute to our society. The training programs also allow for personal growth, which is very important.”

The results during the last several weeks have been very encouraging, with participants showing keen interest in the maritime field and excelling. By the end of the program, participants will have obtained multiple local and international certifications starting with basic keelboat, basic cruising, bare boat cruising, vessel maintenance, STCW 2010, ending with a boat master license.

The Sint Maarten Marine Trades Association have endorsed and been very supportive of this program, with several companies having committed to offering these youths jobs upon successful completion of this course.

“We are very excited to partner with Holland America Line and Kidz at Sea for this program. We believe it's very important for the future of getting youth into the maritime industry,” says Priya Thirumur of K1 Britannia Foundation.

Through collaborative efforts of local charitable and other maritime organizations, and with partners and sponsors such as Holland America Line, life-changing opportunities are created for youth in terms of training and job opportunities, both in St Maarten and abroad.

For more information about Kidz at Sea Foundation, K1 Britannia Foundation, and Holland America Line, visit www.k1britanniafoundation.org, www.facebook.com/Kidz-At-Sea-227713444470718/ or www.hollandamerica.com

Photo 1 Participants of the maritime training course

Photo 3 Participants getting ready to head out to sea

Photo 4 Participant sanding during boat repair class

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