Inspiring the Next Generation

22nd January 2024
Yrhen Balinis, a seafarer, journalist, and Goodwill Maritime Ambassador for the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in the Philippines, shares his passion for inspiring a new generation of seafarers.

When I was just starting, I would be told, ‘But you haven’t even earned your stripes yet. What gives you the authority to tell us what to do?’

It was a valid point. I was just 23 years old when I was appointed as a UN Goodwill Ambassador! I may have read reports, but I did not have the lived experience.

However, I learned that I cannot experience everything at once. Supported by Stefan Schmitt, I then started ‘KAMI NAMAN,’ a roundtable discussion for younger people in the maritime industry.

The value of listening

The aim was to provide a meaningful discussion forum with #FortheYouthinMaritime and to share the outcomes with the United Nations, including but not limited to the International Maritime Organisation.

Unsurprisingly, the cadet participants echoed concerns about training, career progression, work-life balance, and shore leave.

These are all issues that are driving active, experienced seafarers today away from the profession. We often forget that the future of our overseas parcels and green fuels is reliant on transportation by ocean professionals.

For years, I have lobbied, advocated, and championed for the inclusion of youth at the decision-making table.

Gradual progress

I am happy to see gradual progress. The CrewConnect 2023 conference saw a record number of Filipino cadet delegates after they were given complimentary entrance.

SAFETY4SEA, The Mission to Seafarers, Maritime UK, and renowned professional bodies like The Royal Institute of Navigation and the Nautical Institute are recognising younger generations.

Moving forward, despite ending my two-year term as a Goodwill Ambassador for the IMO, I remain positive that the new IMO Secretary-General, H.E. Arsenio Dominguez, will continue to be receptive to the requests of the youth.

I hope that one of these years, the IMO will dedicate World Maritime Day to the theme of youth in the industry to open more dialogues with them and for them.

If I can inspire or even pique the interest of anyone reading this piece and make them realise, “I can empower my cadet or junior to do that,” then our collective efforts will change the industry for the better.

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