Crew Advancement ProgramIn 2009, the Global Maritime and Transportation School (GMATS), the graduate and continuing education arm of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point on Long Island, will graduate its first class of mariners enrolled in the school's Crew Advancement Program (pdf).
The Crew Advancement Program (CAP), was launched in January 2007 as a way of providing a career path for deckhands to advance to mate (officer) positions without having to take time off from their current jobs in order to get the necessary training. The expectation is that this approach will improve crew retention at a time when the maritime industry is having trouble finding skilled personnel in adequate numbers.
CAP covers the skills mariners need in order to qualify for a US Coast Guard 500 or 1600 Gross Ton Mates License. Students' classwork and practical training (simulation and at-sea) is scheduled around their regular responsibilities.
In the two-year program "designed for the mariner who has been actively sailing and has the famililiarization and knowledge of what it takes to be a competent deck-hand," the first year is devoted to nautical science, shiphandling, navigation, navigational law and communication, and cargo handling and stowage.
At the end of the first year, students take an aptitude test which determines whether they continue into the second year. The second year covers meteorology, further modules on ship handling and navigation, fire fighting, emergency medical care, and ship construction, stability and trim.
By adding 30 credits of general education courses during CAP, a student can also earn an associates degree from American Military University.
The December 2008 issue of Maritime Reporter contains an interview with Kelly Curtin, Program Dirctor in the Nautical Science Division of GMATS. Curtin explains:
Employee/Company loyalty is something which needs a strong foundation. By companies offering paid training to their employees they are working to build a foundation of trust and invesment in one another.Curtin also comments on lessons he and his GMATS colleagues have learned so far concerning how best to structure CAP:
We plan to incorporate a placement/entrance examination for us to better determine the level of math and reading skills the students have. Also, at the very beginning of the next program we will have [a] one-week seminar focusing on study skills, class preparation, and [a] basic math refresher. Finally, we incorporated review classes in between the courses to keep the students current and on track for their exam preparation.Further details about CAP and similar programs are available here (current as of early 2007).