Youth Month: A glance at the Maritime Industry through the insights of Young Professionals

[Mossel Bay, South Africa, 18 June 2020] As the nation commemorates Youth Month under the theme: “Youth Power; Growing South Africa Together in The Period of Covid-19”, young professionals from the Port of Mossel Bay share insights on their experiences within the maritime industry through various training  programmes offered by Transnet.

TNPA Young Professionals from left: Corporate Affairs Officer Busisiwe Mahlaba, Civil Engineer Talita Pillay, Finance Officer Ayanda Chonco and Marine Engineering Officer Ziphozethu Khumalo.

  1. Young Professional in Training (YPT) Programme:

The purpose of the Young Professional-in-Training (YPT) programme is to develop individuals who have completed technical and non-technical tertiary qualifications, by providing relevant work experience, leading them to become competent professionals within Transnet. Ayanda Chonco, 27, was appointed as a YPT at the port in 2015 after obtaining his National Diploma in Accounting from the Mangosuthu University of Technology with the assistance of a Transnet bursary. Through hard work and determination, he managed to secure a permanent position as a Finance Officer. His responsibilities include managing the accounts of port lessees and trade debtors.  “I enjoy inspiring other youth to join the maritime industry, the vast opportunities which you get exposed to within this industry will surely assist you in making your dreams a reality,” he said

Busisiwe Mahlaba, also 27-years-old, joined the YPT programme in 2016 after completing her B-Tech: Public Relations Management at the Durban University of Technology. Her role involves strategic communication, stakeholder & customer relations, corporate social investment, events management and brand reputation management. “Corporate Affairs within the maritime industry is multi-faceted and is very rewarding if you’re naturally creative and open minded. I have always strived for excellence, even from high school days, dedicating myself and loving what I do are the reasons why I am a Corporate Affairs Officer today,” she said.

  1. Engineer in Training Programme (EIT):

The Engineer-in-Training programme (EIT) provides experiential learning for graduates with a degree in Engineering, to assist them in gaining sufficient experience to be deployed within Transnet. Talita Pillay, a 27-year-old Civil Engineer, gained a whole new perspective of the maritime industry after she was awarded a Transnet bursary. “I was initially afraid of the ocean but after spending time in Mossel Bay since I was appointed at the port in 2015, I now love the industry. I would recommend other youth to pursue a career in maritime because it is challenging yet an awesome experience to learn about how we develop and maintain assets in the ocean,” she said. As a civil engineer, Pillay’s responsibilities include taking care of the port planning portfolio, capital projects, and port maintenance.

  1. Marine Engineering (MEOs):

Upon her appointment at the Port of Mossel Bay in 2016, 30-year-old Marine Engineering Officer Ziphozethu Khumalo was one of the youngest black women employed at the port’s Marine Department. She holds a National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from the Mangosuthu University of Technology and through a cadetship bursary from Transnet, she obtained a Class 3 Certificate of Competency. “I am responsible for maintaining and operating all machinery and equipment onboard all types of pilot or workboats and ensuring the safety and efficiency of engineering functions at the port,” said Khumalo.  “Perseverance and dedication are what you need in order to pursue a career in this industry. With them, you can conquer any challenge you might come across.”

While these young professionals are just a few of the numerous success stories, Port of Mossel Bay HR Manager, Sikhulule Malghas said TNPA is committed to developing many more youth. “As an agency of the state, TNPA has a responsibility to provide proper skills development programmes, develop technical skills, train artisans and develop engineers to ensure the sustainability of its ports and to stimulate growth of the marine economy,” she said. “The economy is tough, and unemployment is a real concern, and even more so now with Covid-19 and the negative impact on our economy. There are jobs in the maritime industry but there are also significant skills gaps, through such training programmes, we are committed to bridging that gap.”

        The organisation also runs several programmes including a bursary scheme (interested students are encouraged to keep watch on the website for closing dates), Learnerships and an ‘adopted schools’ programme that fosters the development of maths and science in learners from historically disadvantaged primary and high schools, with a view of creating a pipeline of students that qualify for tertiary education for careers in the maritime and engineering fields.

“We also strive to expose youngsters and the general public to the maritime sector, through initiatives such as Take a Girl Child to Work Day, Tomorrow’s Man, various career exhibitions and our port festivals. These are specifically aimed at attracting high school pupils to the industry. Despite the challenges, there are indeed career opportunities for the youth to explore in the maritime sector,” said Corporate Affairs Manager Sithembiso Soyaya.

Other opportunities that the youth can look forward to in the Maritime Industry are, amongst others, Marine Shore Hand, General Purpose Rating (GPR), Berthing Master, Tug Master, Marine Pilot, Skipper Port Operations, and Vessel Traffic Services for which training is accessible through the Maritime School of Excellence. The Maritime School of Excellence is an accredited training institution of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Transport Education and Training Authority and is the leading provider of high-end training in the Port and Maritime sector. 

For more information on bursary and career opportunities at Transnet, visit

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