For Samantha Montes all it took was just a single school trip, while a Grade nine learner, to the Zonnebloem Campus, which is located at the current Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), for her to decide on her current career. It was a decision she stuck throughout her early schooling until she completed her Grade 12. During the school excursion young Montes browsed through the course prospectus and came across the words ‘Maritime Studies’. There and then she knew that was the career she was cut for and today she is a senior maritime instructor at Survival Centre at CPUT.
And it seems Miss Montes had foresight as the national department of transport is currently re-positioning the maritime sector as a part of a broader plan to accelerate economic growth and create job opportunities primarily for the youth. The country has 3 000 kilometres of coastline which makes it among the top fifteen countries that trade by sea. Experts say with proper planning and management the maritime sector can help government drive sustainable economic growth. Some of the careers that the youth can pursue in the maritime sector include, among others:
- Marine and ship engineers
- Crew member
- Deck officers
- Maritime law
- Tug masters
- Marine pilots
- Ship surveyors and
- Maritime environmentalist
After completing her matric in King Williamstown, Miss Montes relocated to Cape Town where she enrolled at the then Cape Technikon, in Granger Bay campus. Early in 2000 she joined her first vessel as a navigation cadet which exposed her to a variety of ship types and careers within the maritime sectors. She was recently asked to accompany a team aboard the SA Agulhas in her capacity as a training instructor for a historic voyage to Antarctica with a group of 20 female cadet officers for a period of three months.
Assuming top position
Miss Montes recently added another bright feather to her academic hat when she was appointed to a powerful position of membership director of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training (IASST). She says the appointment will help South Africa and the entire African continent to fully utilise and derive real value from their maritime sectors. In addition to being at the helm of IASST, her other responsibilities include some of the following:
- Promote the Association internationally
- Chairperson of the IASST discussion group
- Participate in or chairs other sub committees
- Disseminate and collate election ballots for the position of directors.
Miss Montes was recently part of a group of fellow academics from six universities who are part of the Euro-ZA – a project aimed at building capacity in the field of maritime education. She says the project gave her a unique insight in terms of how each maritime authority interprets the standards of training, certification and watch-keeping for seafarers (STCW). She says this was a learning curve for her as she interacted with peers from Europe and the UK. She says she found them more progressive in application of the STCW particularly with regard simulation training.
She also noted that non-English speaking countries also focus on communication as part of their curriculum. “It was also interesting to see, what the relationship was in each country’s maritime cluster. In South Africa we have a more authoritative approach where we follow quite strictly what the authorities prescribe. An open dialogue that we witnessed in Europe and UK seemed to be almost normality there, notes Miss Montes.
She says some of the highlights of her career include visiting all seven continents as this exposed her to many different cultures including fostering partnerships and collaborations with various nationalities.