Genova - Rather than between “a rock and a hard place,” Manuel Tavilla, 60, from Sarzana, calls himself “between a rock and a rock.” The former gas tanker captain and fleet manager, was recently reconfirmed as the president of Aniformar, the Italian Association of Maritime Trainers, which is also involved in the storm over certificates.
That is the delayed publication - delayed by years, and with a stricter interpretation - on the part of the Ministry of Transportation of the regulations transposing the amendments to the STCW Convention (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers), the international law that establishes the packet of knowledge that is required for a sailor to sail. “The professional training centres have had to organise training courses by the end of 2016, to prevent sailors from losing their certifications - says Tavilla -. Although other countries have had problems analogous to what is happening in Italy, there was a recommendation inviting the authorities to apply rigorous - but not inquisitorial - controls during Port State Control (PSC) inspections. We do not yet know how many Italian sailors have obtained all the necessary certifications, but it is safe to say that we are at 75% of the total.”
How have the centres gone about their job?
“Tremendously, although unfortunately there was a case that came out before December on Striscia la Notizia, of a centre in Torre del Greco that was issuing certificates without the sailors who registered taking any courses. It hasn’t become clear who it was, but if it is one of our associates of course they will be expelled.”
How many maritime continuing education providers are there currently in Italy?
“Many, the situation is complex and I believe that the market will cause a selection in the long term. We are the only association in the sector and we represent 16 organisations. Since 2014 we have been in dialogue with the General Command of the Harbour Masters’ Offices, because based on Law 4/2013 - the rules that govern the professions that are not organised into registers or colleges - we put ourselves forward as an association that could organise and guarantee the training standards for all the centres that provide professional training for sailors in Italy.”
Then what happened?
“At the end of 2015, the decree from the Ministry of Transport came out that instituted training courses for trainers at institutions, organisations and companies in the sector. But the matter of the certificates has brought everything to a standstill. Obviously we are interested in being able to take up the project once again: we do not have publicly owned members, nor partly publicly owned training schools as members, we meet the requirements of the law and the necessary certifications, and we are the only sector-specific association and we have a presence throughout Italy.”
But for the moment you are “between a rock and a rock...?”
“Well, let’s say that unfortunately that is our natural state of affairs... professional continuing education is experienced as a burden, economically speaking and in terms of time, both by shipowners and sailors. We would like to change this mentality, offering a common standard of training for all of Italy.”