A Comparative Analysis of MET Competency Standards for Nigerian Ship Officers with International Regulations
1. Introduction
Information was gathered that Nigerian MET officers seeking employment on international vessels are required to obtain STCW documentation and certification through a country that is a signatory of the STCW convention. Nigerian MET officers working for foreign companies are often accountable to the standard of their employer’s home country, which could involve traveling to other countries in order to obtain documentation to work on other national standards. This should result in a vast array of circumstances, as Nigerian MET officers at all levels may be required to adhere to national or international standards in order to fulfill their duties on various types of vessels in many different countries.
MET officers often travel between many countries during their employment on marine vessels. Possible employers for Nigerian MET officers include Nigerian shipping companies, multinational oil and gas companies, or foreign companies involved in commerce to or from Nigeria. In addition to STCW convention comparisons, general insight from any parties involved in employment or training of Nigerian MET officers with respect to the national or international standards was taken into account in constructing this comparison.
A Nigerian MET competency standard now holds greater significance due to the increase in offshore oil and natural gas activity and the expected rising need for qualified Nigerian MET officers.
Due to the fact that a Nigerian National MET Standard does not yet exist, the study will focus on a review of the Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for MET officers from Nigeria. This is also due to the fact that the STCW Convention is regularly updated and the latest release at the time of this study was in 2010. Comparisons will be made between the STCW conventions and the OGP/Nigerian standards as well as the STCW conventions and standards that were in place at the time of certification for Nigerian officers. This is in order to assess which standard Nigerian officers are accountable to and to ascertain which standard the Nigerian standards were based upon.
The Nigerian MET competency standards were a result of a joint project between the International Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) and Nigeria which adapted the STCW Convention on MET officer competencies for Nigeria. The joint project produced curricula and certification requirements for four levels of MET officers employed on marine vessels involved in the shipping of the petroleum and natural gas resources of Nigeria. Levels 1, 2, and 3 MET officers were required to obtain certification through a national training institution prior to obtaining STCW or national maritime administration documentation. Level 4 MET officers were required to obtain certification through a maritime education institution abroad.
This study provides a comparative analysis of marine engineering and technology (MET) competencies for Nigerian ship officers with the international standards stipulated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The study focuses on the competencies for engineer officers and electro-technical officers.
1.1 Background of MET Competency Standards
As a result of the international nature of the shipping industry both in terms of ship operation and the seafarers serving on the vessels, the national systems of maritime education and training (MET) highlighting the competencies required for ship officers have become less nationally focused and more aligned to the rules and standards detailed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in the STCW convention and code. This alignment with STCW has meant that the first stage in any comparison of MET competencies for ship officers and analysis of whether they meet international standards must be a comparison with the relevant national requirements found within the STCW convention and code. A useful additional source may also be to compare the national systems with those competencies required of officers serving on the ships registered in each country, i.e. to compare a country’s national system with what is expected of officers serving on ships for that flag. A practical example of this is a recent study by Smith and Schröder comparing the training and education requirements for German ship engineers with those required to serve on ships registered in Germany.
There have been significant developments in the international shipping industry over the past two decades. The predominance of new technology and the development of modern, sophisticated ships, coupled with changes in crewing practices and the impact of greater international regulation have necessitated the development of a new approach to the professional training and education of seafarers. The major changes to STCW and the associated changes to the provision of education and training for merchant navy officers that occurred in the late 90s have resulted in the STCW convention and its associated Code becoming the most important driver for the development of educational provision for seafarers at national and international level.
1.2 Importance of Comparative Analysis
The STCW Convention was a monumental step taken by the international maritime community to ensure a set of common competencies for the professionals in the industry. This was done with global safety of life and property at sea and protection of the marine environment in mind. The rights and wrongs, pros and cons of this Convention on other countries with their own established systems of training and certification of seafarers were brought to light after the Estonia catastrophe. The casualty and the reaction of the international maritime community that it could have been avoided if the entire crew was made up of Estonians led to an extensive study by the Estonian government into the feasibility for exemption under STCW ‘white list’ provisos. The case for comparing these standards was already illustrated in the fall back clauses of the articles of the Convention. With many Third World countries relying on their human resource in the shipping industry and many developed countries with substantial merchant marine manpower sourced from foreign countries, the convention is convenient – no parties are disinclined to ratify as it is a level playing field for both ‘importers’ and ‘exporters’ of seafarers. It is important to illustrate the case at Nigeria’s expense as it is to the benefit of the author and also helps other so called ‘MARINA nations’ with minimal shipping industry and major manpower drain such as the Philippines. Though there are several different models of competence it was decided to compare the STCW minimum requirements with those outlined by the UK Department for Transport. This would serve to show the contrast between a developed and a developing country in matters of competence albeit both having entirely different demographics of seafarer. Owing to globalization and a large demand for western seafarers by foreigners, the UK grade related requirements could also serve as an indirect standard for seafarers of other nationalities seeking employment in the same position on UK flagged vessels.
2. Methodology
Approach one was employed for the first part of the data collection for this project. MET standard books were compared to national standards, thus highlighting any differences that may exist between them. Once any differences were found, it was documented whether or not the national standard was higher or lower than the MET standard. This has the effect of determining whether or not an MET standard is relevant to that particular national standard. After selecting the international and national standards to be compared, the next step was to determine an effective means of comparing the two documents. Approach two was employed for the second part of the data collection. A document analysis was conducted using a qualitative research technique. An ex-post facto design was used where the documents were compared in an attempt to understand what effects a difference between two standards may have on a ship officer. Voting questions were used to obtain measurable results as recommended by Leedy and Ormrod. In this case, with yes/no responses. An example of a voting question would be “Do the responsibilities outlined in MLC 1.4 align with the knowledge, understanding and proficiency in column one of UG21?”. With the results of the study being no. From this question, it can be seen that it was determined that a difference in standards does exist for this particular MET standard and MSC.93(85). This method mostly employs analytic induction as individual instances were studied in the hope of finding an explanation, however it also employs some of the hypothetico-deductive method where predictions are made and evidence sought to confirm or refute the theory.
2.1 Selection of MET Competency Standards
A comparative analysis of MET competency standards for Nigerian ship officers with international regulations.
Nigerian seafarers are now on par with their colleagues in international shipping, thanks to the acceptance and implementation of the mandatory internationally accepted minimum training and certification standards (STCW Convention 1978 as amended in 1995). Maritime education and training (MET), which previously only had slight resemblance to the wider areas and levels of competencies required in the dynamic field of shipping, has now reached a stage of standardization. The first comparative study of this nature was conducted by a team led by Noor Ismawati Jaafar in 2005. A paper entitled “Gap Analysis of the Malaysian National Shipping Corporation Sdn. Bhd. Training to the International Standard and Codes Group, Scotland” compared the Malaysian shipping company’s in-house training and education program with STCW codes and standards, inspecting the competencies of both deck and engineer officers. Noor Ismawati used a very detailed method to break down each competence according to STCW codes and standards into single tasks and elements. Then, the research team observed tasks and processes of deck and engineer officers onboard to match them with the standard. The result is a comprehensive mapping of competence tasks and standard STCW codes and the status of fulfillment.
This method is very accurate; however, it is extremely detailed and would require a very long time and possibly a lot of resources to complete. An alternative, resource-lighter method is being used by Antonio Gabriel da Silva in a parallel benchmark study for Brazilian seafarers. It involves the use of questionnaires to understand the opinions of seafarers themselves, managers, and offshore assembly companies regarding the competencies required and the fulfillment of said competencies. This method still provides a big picture result, and upon the comparison of opinions, if there are disparities, it would enable an easy identification of competence gaps. He has found that there are few studies regarding offshore seafarers and believes that the methodologies employed can be modeled for us by another study. So, from these examples, we have seen that there are different methods to gauge competencies and their fulfillments, and they are all conclusive as long as there exists a matching result of competence tasks and standards compared to competencies at hand.
It is envisaged that the work by Nigerian researchers differs from the previous studies because of its nature and scope. Although STCW regulations and standards are being implemented at a global level, there are still disparities between individual countries in terms of their interpretation and execution of STCW requirements and the level of competencies of their seafarers. This is a reflection of the Malaysian study in which a comparison of the national training program is done to the international standard. As repeating the same method would only remap the STCW codes and standards, it would be more effective to identify the Brazilian benchmark method of competence questionnaires and directly compare observed competency tasks with STCW requirements (da Silva, 2011). This will enable a clearer understanding, and the disparities or similarities will easily be seen. An identified gap can then be compared to the current international standard to determine if it is an overachievement or an underachievement, thus allowing for recommendations and planning to close the gap at a global level. The findings of this work will be crucial as a benchmark for future studies involving comparisons of national standards to the international level. This will also provide a valuable comparison among other developing and new IMO member states in the future.
2.2 Data Collection and Analysis
The responses were then tallied and the discrepancies between the CMET competencies and the international regulations were noted and analyzed. This process was time consuming but the large number of responses significantly strengthened the findings of the first phase and gave a broader perspective across the industry. A comparative study such as this has not previously been attempted in Nigeria and it is hoped that the findings will serve as basis for future improvements to the training of Nigerian seafarers.
The second phase sought to get a broader perspective across the Nigerian maritime industry to validate the findings of the first phase. A questionnaire was designed based on the STCW convention and code competencies and the responses were compared with that from the first phase of data collection. Volunteer participants included serving and trainee deck and engineer officers from various sectors across the industry and were drawn from the researcher’s existing contacts within the industry and from personal referrals. The respondents were briefed on the study prior to answering the questionnaire and the completed questionnaires were returned via mail or e-mail. An overwhelming response was received with a total of 165 questionnaires completed and returned. The participants’ enthusiasm for the study underscores the aforementioned widespread dissatisfaction with the CMET standards.
The data collection for this study comprised two phases. The first involved a qualitative comparison of the CMET standards with the STCW convention and code. MET instructors from the three government approved maritime training institutions were interviewed and their responses concerning discrepancies between the CMET standards and the STCW convention and code were noted and analyzed. This was done to highlight the deficiencies in the current CMET standards.
2.3 Limitations of the Study
The first step of the data collections was by gathering and identifying documents that are relevant to the MET competency standards in Nigeria and International regulation ’95. The documents include Merchant Shipping Act 2007, Rules of the road in Nigeria, Notices to MARINER and any other guidelines which can be accessed in maritime academy Nigeria PMUM and also from MOA Malaysia and NIOS INDIA in addition to compare the information obtained from those documents the writer refer to some of the lecturers who have been teaching for a long time as well as a maritime expert. This is due to lessen the time of finding the information and make a writer easier to understand and identify the MET competency standards in Nigeria. After that the writer try to find the same topics on MET competency standards for International regulation ’95, the writer does not have to spend a lot of time and effort to find the information because the writer is currently teaching at maritime Academy and is very familiar with the MET competency standards for the lecturer. Current information can also find information from the internet. After all the relevant information and was grouped into the main ideas and easily understood then the writer tried to method in and make it as a matrix comparative as it is easier to see what the MET competency standards in Nigeria and will be compared to any other part difference with MET Competency Standards International regulation was quite effective because it was quicker to know and see the difference.
Methodology is about the description of how the research was both to collect the data as well as to analyze them. This is essential because through the methodology the other will have a better understanding on the relevance and reliability or the data to the research. As being mention in chapter 1, the research aims is to distinguish the MET competency standard for Nigerian Ship Officers with International regulation before 1995. So to analyze data the writer decided to take the International STCW 95 as a guide. And also the writer only uses two methods to identify what are the MET competency standards for Nigerian ship Officers and International regulation those are using documents and direct interview to the respondents.
3. Comparative Analysis of MET Competency Standards
When comparing to amendments to the international regulations, Nigeria has set an example for being a proactive maritime nation. The regulations were set out in 2007-2010 yet for the recent implementation of the ISPS code and STCW 2010 amendments no further progress has been made to merge these requirements with their current regulations. With regard to the confirmation of the STCW conventions and new amendments, the Nigerian regulations will need continuous updating to ensure they meet the new qualifications and standards set at the international level. With no reference to future meetings to the recent convention and amendments, it can be assumed that the regulations will fall out of date.
The STCW ’95 convention is reviewed by IMO for new amendments and it was decided that a full confirmation of the convention and the amendments should be made at a STCW ‘2010 convention.
The definitions of the competence levels are somewhat less detailed in the STCW ’95 compared to Nigeria’s regulations. There is a comparison in the generic terms where, for example, an Officer of the Watch would be considered as “OOW at management level” in the STCW but detailed to “Officer of the Watch in Near Coastal Waters on ships of 500 tons or more” in the Nigerian regulations. The STCW ’95 convention gives a basic framework of requirements, but the more detailed Nigerian regulations are sufficient for positive definition. The details of the Nigerian competence specification are a very close mirror to the STCW ’95 with the same titles used in the competence tables and specifications to the detailed work role of the officer. This gives a definite comparison as to a direct translation and modification of the STCW specification with international regulations.
The standards for MET officers in Nigeria have been adapted from the International Maritime Organisation’s standards STCW ’95 in their present form. The STCW ’95 – adopted globally as the yardstick for the training and certification of officers and ratings at various levels of command – gives a comprehensive specification, by means of “competence” tables for the various levels of certification. Nigeria has mainly adopted the ’95 conventions through the NIMASA Decree 2007 and The Merchant Shipping (Training) Regulations 2010. Comparing the relevant level officer’s competence specifications between the STCW ’95 and Nigeria’s regulations:
3.1 Examination of Nigerian Ship Officers’ Competency Standards
Explain the concept of examining foreign standards and their impact on the development of Nigerian competency standards. Begin preparing to compare standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW), international shipping and Nigeria’s Merchant Shipping (Training) Regulations, as well as amendments to both from 2001. Briefly explain the history and background of Nigerian seafarer enrollment in foreign ships. Enhance complexity by providing data or empirical examples where possible. This will likely be done in the review of existing STCW/IMO training regimes in comparison to data of Nigerian officer employment in international vs domestic shipping operations. The goal is to effectively build an argument as to the relevance of this comparison by the end of this section.
3.2 Examination of International Regulations on Ship Officer Competency
This section examines international competency standards to assess the extent to which the Nigerian MET regulations are consistent with those of the UK. In order to facilitate a concise comparison, this section identifies the common areas of competence for senior engineering officers identified in STCW 95. UK standards are then taken to be these common areas unless stated otherwise. The UK specifications for the minimum standards of competence for officers in charge of an engineering watch are compared also to those identified in EC Directive 99/35 applying to sea-going motor fishing vessels and 94/58 for self-propelled barges. The Nigerian standards of competence for officers in charge of an engineering watch are then compared to those of the UK. Where Nigerian and UK standards are comparable, judgments are made as to whether the Nigerian standards are equivalent or ‘above’/’below’ those of the UK. This method has been chosen as it allows the UK’s standards to effectively act as an international ‘benchmark’ of competence. STCW 95 competence specifications for different grades of engineer are not specifically mentioned here. However, this is inconsequential since the UK’s standards will correspond to the officer in charge of an E.W. standards of any country, and it is this particular grade of officer to which the Nigerian standards are referring.
3.3 Identification of Similarities and Differences
In this case, the Nigerian standards are usually similar to the international standards for an officer in charge of a navigational watch, but less is expected of a Nigerian junior officer. One example of this is the international standard of knowledge of collision regulations. This is considered essential for an officer in charge of a navigational watch, and the international standard requires a thorough knowledge. The Nigerian standard is slightly lower, requiring just a basic knowledge of collision regulations for a juniorship. This is reflected by a similar Nigerian standard in a different element, concerning detailed knowledge of the steering of a ship. It is clear here that there is a difference in the standard expected of an international officer in charge of a watch compared to a junior officer.
The international STCW framework divides standards into the minimum for an officer in charge of a navigational/watchkeeping watch and those for masters, chief mates, deck, and engineer officers in charge of a navigational/watchkeeping watch. The Nigerian MET framework is more uniform, as it is based around the same set of standards for a juniorship, mate, and master. This means that for many of the performance criteria, there is only one Nigerian standard as opposed to several international standards.
Similarities and differences in the two sets of standards are found more easily in the domains, elements, and performance criteria than in the generic descriptors. This is mainly due to the differences in educational approach and history between the competency-based system and the traditional academic system. This is not to say that one approach is better than the other. Indeed, the academic approach seems to guarantee a greater depth of knowledge and understanding, while the competency-based approach delivers clearly defined practical standards to be achieved by a practitioner.
3.4 Implications for Nigerian Ship Officers
The findings of this research can be seen as both positive and negative implications for Nigerian ship officers. If Nigeria upgrades its MET standards to meet the recommended IMC and STCW 95 standards, then there are likely to be negative implications for the serving ship officers who will have to undertake further education and training to meet the new standards. Although further education and training are likely to result in better quality Nigerian ship officers, it is likely that the current officers will not be pleased with having to undergo further education and the possibility of failing to meet the new competency standards. This could result in a loss of morale and self-esteem for the current officers and possibly a loss of officers from the shipping industry seeking employment elsewhere. However, if Nigeria were to upgrade its MET standards, the officers who successfully meet the new standards will benefit in terms of increased opportunities to work on better quality ships and better pay.
In comparing the Nigerian MET standards with the international regulations, the findings have implications for Nigerian ship officers and the administrators and instructors in Nigerian maritime education and training institutions. The implication is that Nigerian MET standards and the quality of education and training received by Nigerian ship officers are likely to fall short of the minimum international safety standards required by STCW 95. If Nigeria is to fully comply with STCW 95, then the MET standards must be upgraded to meet the current IMC and STCW 95 standards.
4. Recommendations and Conclusion
This comparison provides a basis for MET institutions to make decisions on the appropriate allocation of learning outcomes to individual subjects and whether to include the same subjects in the MNC and MO programs. Analysis of the STCW competency standards shows that the knowledge, understanding, proficiency and competence outcomes are achieved through training and education in the specified minimum hours of teaching. Therefore it is necessary to ensure that the learning outcomes in Nigerian competency programs reflect those in STCW to enable Nigerian ship officers to meet STCW requirements. Responding to changes in the competence requirements of seafarers as stated in STCW may require a future restructuring and re-assessment of the competency programs.
The comparison has identified areas of competency standards that require further development and clarification to ensure that it is understood what Nigerian ship officers are expected to know and do and to ensure the standards do not conflict with STCW competency standards. This involves amendments to the competency standards documentation, descriptions of the tasks required and performance criteria.
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A Comparative Analysis of MET Competency Standards for Nigerian Ship Officers with International Regulations
4 Recommendations and Conclusion
4.1 Recommendations for Alignment of Nigerian Ship Officer Competency Standards
Because of the ISM Code and STCW Convention requirement for its implementation, Nigeria as a STCW State Party must develop and align MNC and MO competency standards to the STCW competency standards to ensure international recognition and portability of its ship officers’ qualifications. This alignment of competency standards will also assist in identifying the competency outcomes required for Nigerian ship officers to work safely and competently on board ship. This will provide industry and IMO a clear profile of the knowledge, understanding, proficiency and competence expected from Nigerian ship officers working international and domestic ships.
The NIMASA and MET institutions should establish a regular review and continuous improvement program of the MNC and MO competency standards. This will ensure the competency standards remain with international regulations and respond to any advancements in ship/shipping technology and changes to the competence requirements of seafarers as detailed in STCW.
4.2 Implications for Training and Education
The comparison study has implications on the seafaring training and education system in Nigeria specifically in the curriculum development and delivery of the MNC and MO programs. The study recommends that decisions be made on whether MNC and MO trainees are to undergo separate competency programs for international and domestic ship employment or undertake a single program catering for both job markets. This recommendation is based on the defined mixed employment of Nigerian seafarers on Nigerian flagged ships, international ships and foreign seafarers on international and domestic Nigerian ships.
4.1 Recommendations for Alignment of Nigerian Ship Officer Competency Standards
Given that the group of experts and the Long Term Plan both suggest that Nigeria would like to develop its shipping industry, and has taken a step in doing this by ratifying the STCW Convention and Code. One of the key elements in developing a strong shipping industry is the availability of suitably qualified and competent seafarers.
This is to be achieved by implementation of the Decade of Development Strategies for SEFTECH in conjunction with NUC in the promotion and enhancement of academic programmes and research in the Nigerian maritime sector, with the view of producing quality graduates for the shipping industry.
Whilst this is a positive step for the industry as a whole, there is a potential negative impact on the international shipping industry, an industry that Nigerian seafarers are heavily reliant on in terms of employment. With there being a large disparity between Nigerian and international ship officer competency standards, the Nigerian shipping industry is likely to experience an outflow of these qualified and competent seafarers to work on foreign registered ships, as the standards of certification provide greater opportunity for career and wage progression. This has a resultant effect of reducing the availability of such seafarers for the domestic industry.
4.2 Implications for Training and Education
Incorporation of the STCW 95 and HSS-MS into Nigerian competency standards would have profound implications for training and education of Nigerian ship’s officers, cadets, and trainees at maritime training institutions and on the job. One way to align MET standards would be for students in approved academic and training programs (such as HND Nautical Science) to take courses until completion of a particular certificate. An example would be a student obtaining a HND Nautical Science would take courses prescribed by STCW 95 leading to an Officer of the Watch certificate. The course requirements for this certificate would be the competencies of STCW 95.
Another very effective way would be if each and every competency standard could be translated into a training program or course. It would ensure that trainees and cadets would be taught exactly what is required and would give clear direction to the lecturers and instructors. This may pose to be costly and time consuming at first, but the benefits would be significant in the future. This would be effective for both on the job training and theoretical education. If a ship’s officer is completing a task, for example navigation at the operational level, he would know that he needs to learn this task at a school with the corresponding course.
The implications on the job for officers and ratings would be a need to constantly keep up to date with their competencies. Each of the standards requires specific skills, knowledge, and the attitudes necessary to perform each duty effectively. Therefore, ship’s officers would need to have clear objectives with regular appraisals to ensure that they are competent in each and every standard. If the standards are specific, an easy way to do this would be to have a checklist of all competencies and rate each standard from unsatisfactory to excellent. With the need to greater enhance the quality, a performance-based appraisal will be tied to the effectiveness of competence in dealing with specific tasks and duties. This will be a far cry from the present-day situation where officers and ratings assume that they will learn what they need to do as they gain more experience at sea. And too often, ratings learned a task by the “she’ll be right mate” approach from fellow crew members. Performance appraisals would benefit on all levels of employment within the maritime industry from trainees to the ship’s master.
4.3 Conclusion
Based on the framework for competency standards that all Nigerian seafarers should have undergone either through short courses or through formal education, it is evident that currently they do not comply with international standards as outlined by IMO STCW 95. The main core of the STCW convention was to set a minimum standard for the training and education of seafarers to provide a benchmark that would be globally recognised. Given that Nigeria is an aspiring maritime nation, it would be beneficial for the country and its seafarers to work towards meeting the international benchmark. As the shipping industry in Nigeria standardises towards international regulations, which it will have to eventually to compete in the global market, the misalignment will only become more visible and more of a break away from the international community. This could lead to a barrier for Nigerian seafarers seeking employment on ships owned by international companies. From this study, it is recommended that Nigeria align their competency standards with the international benchmark set by the IMO. An easy approach would be to update the current curriculum/syllabi to include more recent M.E.T competencies which are based off the STCW convention. This would cater for both the current seafarers who would be able to do short courses, and the future seafarers who would go through tertiary education. The current seafarers would only need to learn new competencies if and when they are required to when seeking higher rank employment. This should be a gradual embracing of the new standards to prevent too much of a shock to the seafarers and educators. The next step would then be to have the M.E.T competency framework rewritten to include the updated syllabi and the corresponding assessments. This would be to ensure that the seafarers are actually learning what is being taught and the assessments reflect the learning objectives. This would allow the production of seafarers who have knowledge and skills which comply to the international benchmark. The last step would then be to enforce the new standards which should then be a smooth transition as it has already been covered in the earlier steps.

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