From Deck Hand to Skipper – skills training a priority for Sea Harvest
[Saldanha Bay] – Standing on the bridge of a vessel more than ten years ago, Vivian Lackay dreamed of becoming a Skipper. The member of Sea Harvest’s sea-going crew, who grew up in Robertson in the Western Cape, joined the company in 2004. Lackay has worked and studied his way up the ranks, becoming a Leading Deck Hand and then First Mate before qualifying as a Skipper in January this year. "The biggest task of a Skipper is accepting responsibility for important decisions that need to be made on a vessel, decisions that often impact the entire crew. Sea Harvest has provided me training and development opportunities that have made it possible for me to advance my career," says Lackay.
Sea Harvest Fleet Executive, Russell Hall, says, "Investing in skills training that leads to meaningful career growth opportunities for our employees is vital." Sea Harvest is one of South Africa’s leading producers of Cape Hake with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification obtained for South Africa’s hake industry in 2004. "We encourage staff to develop their skills through mentorship and further study," adds Hall.
One of Lackay’s fellow Skippers, Dirk Zandberg had a varied career before finding his true passion working at sea. The former Malmesbury Fire Chief, who owned a restaurant and pub up until 2009, also recently qualified as a Skipper. He has set his sights on becoming a High Seas Commander, the highest rank one can obtain on a vessel.
Zandberg is currently mentoring Marco Hendricks who grew up in Mitchells Plain. Hendricks completed his Able Seaman ticket in 2006 and qualified as a Leading Deck Hand in 2007. He was recently promoted to Bosun, responsible for overseeing the entire deck of a vessel at sea. Hendricks’ next goal is to obtain his Mates ticket, where he would be responsible for assisting the Skipper, and then qualify as a Skipper like Zandberg.
"We are incredibly proud of the determination and hard work that our crew members demonstrate not only while working out at sea, but in their own personal career development and achieving their career goals," says Hall.
all adds that the company’s commitment to skills development extended to sending four of its fleet engineers to Japan in 2015 for specialised training in servicing one of its freezer vessels, the Harvest Miriam Makeba’s two-stroke Yanmar engine, which emits less gas compared to other engines. Lindile Vingca, David Williams, Pieter Vraagom and Kenneth Steven who are responsible for the maintenance and engine refit of all Sea Harvest vessels returned to Saldanha with a greater technical understanding of the state of the art Yanmar engine. It was Williams’ second overseas training trip in his career at Sea Harvest, having attended another training course in Germany previously.
Meanwhile, carpenters in training, Eathan Ackers (pictured above left) and Ryan Yon (above right), are part of a Sea Harvest special apprentice programme managed by the learning and development department. Jonathan Dirks is another young apprentice specialising in welding. For some of the apprentices, the opportunity to join Sea Harvest and develop their skills is a significant and crucial first step in turning away from a former life in gangsterism and crime.
"As one of the single largest employers in Saldanha Bay and the West Coast District, we believe in creating sustainable employment and developing as many staff as possible who have demonstrated a willingness and commitment to improving themselves and their careers. Their growth in turn has a positive impact on families and local communities on the West Coast, especially as they become role models within their communities. Of course, this commitment to training and development extends to all our staff, not only those in the Fleet division," concludes Hall.