Canada creates its own Military to Maritime recruitment initiative

The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) has launched a program that the organization hopes will help with job training and employment opportunities in the marine field for former members of the Canadian Armed Forces as they enter civilian life.

SIU said the program — dubbed the Priority Veteran Hiring Initiative — will match the skills, training and experience of the Canadian Forces within the commercial shipping industry. The aim is to create opportunities for both the maritime industry and Veterans Affairs Canada.

“All of our partner companies, from coast to coast, support the initiative to recruit and train tomorrow’s seafarers,” said James Given, president of SIU in Canada. “With the valuable skill sets, ambition and dedication to the Canadian flag those veterans bring to our industry, it is welcomed on all fronts.”

Veteran Derryk Fleming said he is very optimistic that the program will benefit all involved.

“I think it can create a win-win scenario where it is going to help a lot of families, especially for members of the Canadian Forces who are ready for a transition and only have had a partial pension,” Fleming said. “I am very optimistic that it will re-energize an aging work force and invigorate the Canadian shipping industry.”

Fleming believes that former members of the Canadian Forces will bring excellent skills into what he sees as another branch of national service. “The marine industry is the lifeblood of Canada’s export markets,” he said. 

Despite the optimism reflected by Fleming, Jacques Paquin, editor of the SIU newspaper The Sailor, said veterans eager to join the commercial fleet are frustrated with lack of progress in winning recognition of their military sea service.

“The SIU has recruited eight veterans and they are doing very, very well,” he said. “It is surprising that the training they have received while they were in the Canadian navy is not helping them get certificates of competency from Transport Canada, the department responsible for the deliverance of such certificates when they board a commercial vessel. There appears to be a lack of communication between government departments.”

Capt. Zenon Szlachetka, senior marine inspector with Transport Canada in Vancouver, told Professional Mariner that he was not aware of any recent discussions, but that military qualifications can be recognized within Transport Canada regulations.

“At present, as in the past, Transport Canada has provisions to recognize military marine qualification and seagoing experience toward ‘civilian’ certification,” he said. 

The details, Szlachetka noted, are in TP2293 (Transport Canada publication The Examination and Certification of Seafarers), Chapter 2, items 2.7.(2) for nautical certificates and 2.8.(3) and (4) for engineering certificates.

Member of Parliament Rick Dykstra said discussions are ongoing regarding transitions from military to civilian life.

“Currently, qualifications are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are generally being approved with some additional training being supplied by the SIU,” Dykstra wrote.

A similar program is underway in the United States, with numerous job fairs across the country for veterans (see story, PM #183).

More than 400 veterans attended a Military to Maritime career fair in September sponsored by the American Maritime Partnership (AMP). The event was hosted by the Port of Houston and is part of a national program to help connect the nation’s servicemen and servicewomen with jobs in the American maritime industry.

By Professional Mariner Staff