August 9, 2014 – National Womens Day
An increasing number of young women have achieved success in the maritime industry thanks to the educational support they received while completing their schooling at Simon’s Town School’s Lawhill Maritime Centre.
For the past 18 years, the Lawhill Maritime Centre – a programme that provides young men and women with maritime-related knowledge and skills while they are still at school – has helped to address youth unemployment and poverty in South Africa by attracting young students to the shipping industry, stimulating maritime awareness among young people and providing the industry with motivated new entrants equipped with a range of maritime-related knowledge and skills.
Lawhill graduates Kelly Klaasen, Blondie Jobela, Nomkhitha Mbele and Nicole Gouvias are four of many young women who, upon graduating from Lawhill, have achieved success in the industry, both at sea and ashore.
For example, Kelly Klaasen and Nicole Gouvias – both in their 20s – are currently on track to making Lawhill history: Klaasen could become Lawhill’s first female Chief Engineer and Gouvias could be the school’s first female shipmaster. Both Klaasen and Gouvias received tertiary study bursaries from Safmarine and are currently sailing with the AP Moller-Maersk Group.
Blondie Jobela, currently serving as a Third Engineer with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, has also inspired her two younger brothers – who both attended Lawhill – to follow in her footsteps by embarking on a career at sea. Mbekeli is a navigating cadet with Unicorn and Thando is studying marine engineering.
Making her mark in the on-shore maritime industry is Nomkhitha Mbele, who joined SMIT Amandla Marine in December 2007 as a trainee operations coordinator. Eighteen months after joining the company, she was promoted to Contracts Manager and in June 2013, to her current role as Commercial Manager where she is responsible for the commercial management of vessels contracted by SMIT Amandla, as well as management of third party clients.
According to Brian Ingpen, Head of the Lawhill Maritime Centre:
“The determination of these young women and the support they have received from forward-thinking companies have enabled them to embark on meaningful and exciting careers within the maritime industry.
“Ongoing industry support for the Lawhill programme has also made it possible for many young men and women – especially those from financially-stressed homes – to escape the perils of youth unemployment, an issue which continues to be one of South Africa’s most pressing problems and which is an issue that impacts both the lives of all South Africans and the future growth of the South African economy.”