SHIPPING: Cyprus lags in ‘women on board’ but turnaround seen in workforce

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With the Cyprus shipping sector employing 9,000 people onshore and a further 55,000 crew onboard ships, of whom 35,000 are on Cypriot-flag vessels, the role of women remains minuscule, and far from the norm of 5% in the worldwide industry.

However, this number is changing fast, ever since Cyprus re-introduced maritime academies in recent years, with three dedicated schools already enrolling 300 students.

“In one school alone, 30% of first-year enrolments were women, with our efforts to promote the profession in local schools and education exhibitions paying off,” said Deputy Shipping Minister Natasa Pilides.

During her presentation for the 16th Maritime Cyprus conference to be held in Limassol on October 6-9, the junior minister said that apart from a subsidy for Cypriot students attending these schools and other maritime courses, this scheme has been extended to other European students, while encouraging schools to introduce more courses in English.

“In the management area, Cyprus is proud of the fact that the biggest women’s professional body, WISTA, has one of the biggest chapters in the world with 150 members, and the president of the international association is from Cyprus,” she said, referring to Despina Theodosiou, CEO of maritime communication company Tototheo.

George Mouskas, chairman of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners and Managing Director Zela Shipping, said there is a great need to hire locally.

“There is demand for specialists onboard vessels, from marine engineers to naval architects, with some of these jobs offering very rewarding pay.”

He said Cyprus-based shipowners are obliged to recruit foreign personnel because of the absence of local talent.

“With these new courses and academies, I’m sure that in 5-10 years’ time we will have our own pool of local graduates to hire from,” Mouskas said.