Tampa, Fla. – Professionals from various careers in the Port of Tampa’s maritime industry – members of the world’s largest Propeller Club, located in the Port of Tampa; along with members from the Tampa Bay Mariners Club, Inc., visited middle and high schools in Hillsborough County Public Schools for the Great American Teach-In on November 19, 2015. These volunteers spent a total of at least twenty-seven class periods in various Hillsborough County middle and high schools describing their careers, the maritime industry in general, and how students could develop pathways to lucrative careers in the maritime industry.
Participants included Brendan Ball of OSG Ship Management, Inc., Pamela Fay of Lightning Bay; Patrick Garrison of Bluewater Diver & Salvage Co.; Ginger Hayes, Commercial Marine Insurance Underwriter; Christopher Koehler, Esq. of Fowler Rodriguez LLP; Captain Bill Kuzmick of American Victory Mariners Museum and Ship; Alycia N. McGlone of McGlone Marine Insurance; James Spear of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association; and Eric Thiel, Esq. of Banker Lopez Gassler, P.A.
Although perhaps not well-known, there is an enormous breadth of educational paths and maritime-related career choices available. Students learned they can pursue these in Hillsborough County Public Schools, college, graduate school and beyond, or in local technical schools. In particular, the students were interested to know that many maritime-industry careers with excellent salaries are land-based, in addition to seagoing careers which are commonly known to pay well.
Students also learned that for every seagoing career – from able-bodied seamen, to officers with advanced degrees – there are exponentially more supporting land-based personnel in very diverse careers, a large number of which require education ranging from college and graduate degrees and beyond, to high school and technical school diplomas.
Even in the current difficult economic climate, students discovered that for the foreseeable future, maritime industry jobs will grow at 15% rate over the next ten years. In short, students found that there is an education level and maritime industry career available for almost anyone, here in the Port of Tampa and elsewhere.
“Students were excited to learn about maritime industry careers with good incomes, and most of them had no idea what a huge resource the Port of Tampa is, for the entire community,” said Mr. Koehler. Mr. Koehler advised students that career paths in the maritime industry include land-based or seagoing careers which provide substantial and reliable salaries — whether developed in college and graduate school, with commensurate income in the marketplace that can easily reach six figures – or in more traditional, but well-paying and plentiful technical vocations.
“It was an uplifting experience, and I found great enthusiasm in the students. I wouldn’t miss returning next year, for the world,” said Mr. Garrison.
Perhaps most importantly, the visiting professionals also brought news to students about Hillsborough County Public Schools’ maritime education programs, which were developed in close collaboration with the Propeller Club – Port of Tampa: the Magnet Maritime and Marine Environmental Science Honors Academy at Tampa’s Jefferson High School, and the maritime education program at Blake High School. Students in these programs are exposed to a wide spectrum of maritime-industry career paths, including: information technology specialists, marine surveyors, trade/businesspeople, engineers, logistics specialists, naval architects, terminal operations personnel, admiralty lawyers, ship workers/officers, port operations personnel; as well as ship-building/repair career paths, including skilled iron-workers, electricians, machinists, and technicians; and many more. Many graduates of these programs can expect to go to colleges and universities, then on to very rewarding maritime industry careers; but some have the option to immediately begin reliable and profitable work in highly-skilled blue-collar jobs, whether seagoing or ashore.
The application period for 2016/2017 closes on December 15, 2015. Applications for Jefferson’s Magnet Maritime Honors Academy are available at http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/magnet. All interested Blake students should apply directly to the school.