More young people have been encouraged to seek a career in the shipping industry after the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) started holding annual seafarers’ examinations, with the average acceptance rate rising to 28.95 percent.
The ministry has held two seafarers’ examinations this year. The number of examinees has increased from 385 in the first exam to 462 in the second, with the acceptance rate rising from 26.78 percent to 28.95 percent.
Previously, the exam was hosted by the Ministry of Examination and students in navigation and marine engineering who were still in school were barred from taking the exam. This year, the exam was held by the MOTC, which lifted the restriction.
The MOTC also produced a TV commercial promoting the seafarers’ exam, emphasizing that being a seafarer could help people to save a lot of money to raise a family.
Those who pass the exam can get work as third deck officers or third engineering officers with shipping lines, where the starting monthly wage ranges from NT$96,000 to NT$146,000 (US$3,300 to US$5,000).
Su Chun-yu (蘇俊宇), who took first place in the first seafarer’s exam, is a senior student at the Department of Transportation Science at National Taiwan Ocean University.
He said it was his childhood dream to be a seafarer.
“My father was a fisherman. I have always dreamed of being able to operate fishing boats and go fishing with my father,” he said.
“Even though I am going to operate commercial ships, not fishing boats, my father still supports my wish to become a seafarer,” he added.
Su said he discovered that he gets seasick when he was an intern on a ship. He said that he was not afraid because he was interning on a ship that was a remodeled fishing boat. The commercial ships that he would board in the future are larger and are more stable.
Su said that he prepared for the exam by forming a study group. Because there are five subjects in the exam, each member of the group was assigned to study the old tests for one subject and prepare notes for it.
Chuang Fu-yu (莊馥瑜), a third deck officer at Yang Ming Marine Transport, graduated from National Taiwan Ocean University in 2010. She earns NT$1.2 million a year and says that the high salary was the reason why she decided to become a seafarer.
Many people think that working on a ship is boring, but Chuang said that it really depends on how one uses one’s time.
“The shipping facilities have improved greatly,” she said. “A lot of the seafarers use their spare time to learn new languages or gain new professional knowledge. They have more time to plan for their lives when they are not working.”