The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s Education and Workforce Development Committee is setting its sights on the increasing need for workers in the maritime industry, according to a recent article published by the organization in community newspapers.

The Houston Ship Channel is the nation’s largest and has been called the most irreplaceable port because of its access to the petrochemical complex. At the most recent meeting of the BAHEP committee, panelists addressed the issues facing local maritime companies.

Gordi Keenan, vice president of Higman Marine Services, discussed the need for a more educated maritime workforce.

“The business has changed in the past few years, and it needs better wheelmen, tanker men and officers on these boats,” Keenan said.

He said he’d been working with local high schools, as well as San Jacinto College, to build up the pool of better educated employees, particularly those well taught in math and English.

Paige Nguyen, human resources generalist with Wilhelmsen Ships Services, said the company was also working with local schools to create awareness of maritime industry work opportunities and in 2013 opened its own training center.

A large portion of maritime workers are nearing retirement age. Industry experts say they need workers who are able to make good decisions in limited time, are able to deal with the demanding work schedule, and able to keep up with advancements in technology used by maritime companies.

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