Canadian school uses virtual reality to promote maritime careers

(OTTAWA, Ontario) — Ocean School, a groundbreaking collaboration between Dalhousie University, the Ocean Frontier Institute and the National Film Board of Canada, has unveiled “Shipping on the Seaway,” an educational experience designed to ignite curiosity and foster a deeper understanding of maritime transportation among youth ages 11 to 17.

With 43 percent of the marine workforce expected to retire in the next decade and an estimated 19,000 “onboard jobs” alone to fill, this initiative aims to cultivate the next generation of marine professionals by strengthening their connection to Canada’s vital waterways. The high-paying career opportunities to explore are vast, ranging from ship captains and seafarers to marine engineers and shoreside professionals.

Launched in conjunction with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season on March 22, “Shipping on the Seaway” offers a unique, inquiry-based learning experience utilizing cutting-edge technologies alongside engaging activities. Students will embark on an immersive 360-degree tour of a CSL vessel, getting insights into the challenges, diverse career paths and operations of shipping professions. From navigating locks to exploring the use of biofuels, this bilingual series of videos provides a taste of what life is like working on a 750-foot vessel.

Ocean School photo

Ocean School has also developed a suite of tools and learning resources for educators, including media-based teaching materials, action projects and assessment tools designed to integrate marine-focused lessons into various subjects and curriculum. Educator content can be accessed here.

Funding and content for “Shipping on the Seaway” was made possible through the collaboration of industry partners, including the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the CSL Group, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. and the Canadian Marine Careers Foundation, organizations committed to advancing maritime education and sustainability.

For more information about “Shipping on the Seaway” and Ocean School’s educational resources, click here.

“’Shipping on the Seaway’ bridges classroom learning to real-world application, allowing students to see how Canadian ships transport essential products and to understand the wider economic impacts of shipping. Focusing on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region, we aim to inspire students to appreciate shipping’s vital role in sustaining prosperity and environmental stewardship,” said Bruce Burrows, president and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

“CSL is thrilled to be part of this initiative that shines a spotlight on our vessel, CSL St. Laurent, and the essential role seafarers plays in safe, efficient and sustainable marine shipping. Our biofuels project demonstrates our commitment to eco-friendly operations, supporting the industry’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. We hope this program inspires young people to join an innovative industry that is working toward a cleaner and greener future for all,” said Louis Martel, president and CEO of the The CSL Group.

“Partnering with ‘Shipping on the Seaway’ has been a creative way to give students a firsthand look at the inner workings of the St. Lawrence Seaway and its locks. This is a unique opportunity for young people to witness the marvel of maritime engineering and appreciate the intricate processes involved in maintaining our vital waterways,” said Nicole Giroux-Laplante, senior adviser, corporate communications, at the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

“Ocean School has developed an incredible way to encourage exploration of the rewarding and diverse marine career opportunities in Canada. Our sector is facing critical labor shortages, and it’s essential that we educate the next generation about the dynamic and multifaceted nature of the marine industry,” said Julia Fields, executive director, Canadian Marine Careers Foundation.

“Ocean School is excited to release a new collection of content on the St. Lawrence Seaway and the lock system. This content allows students to explore a real-world application of marine science, demonstrating the intricacies of a major waterway that is pivotal to international trade. By studying the Seaway and its lock system, students gain insights into complex logistical challenges, engineering marvels, and the environmental considerations necessary in managing such a significant maritime route. We are hopeful that the inclusion of this content can inspire students to pursue careers in marine industries, fostering the next generation of professionals who will continue to advance our understanding and stewardship of marine environments,” said Jac Gautreau, director of business development, distribution and production, Ocean School.

–  Canadian Marine Careers Foundation

By Professional Mariner Staff