By Brian Dunn

For the transportation and logistics sectors, there is no shortage of education programs provided by trade groups, colleges, universities and marine schools across the country.

The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) offers a certificate program that covers international transportation and trade and the essentials of freight forwarding, and an advanced certificate on specialized freight services and supply chain management. International trade introduces students to air, ocean, truck and rail transportation and to the world geography through which goods move. It also covers the rules of international commercial terms (Incoterms 2010®), which address issues related to the transfer of ownership and risk as goods are transported from seller to buyer.

The essentials of freight forwarding helps students understand how buyers and sellers manage risk with a variety of international payments, cargo insurance, properly completed commercial documents and export packaging, so students can offer alternative solutions to their clients. The program concludes with professional costing and quoting.

Specialized freight services examine the details of marine cargo, project cargoes and chartering vessels or aircraft. Regulatory compliance is emphasized in an in-depth discussion of customs, while transportation law and legal liability are addressed through International Conventions and CIFFA’s Standard Trading Conditions.

Supply chain management is the introduction to logistics and supply chain management concepts and includes discussions on technology and the increasingly important green logistics. It also introduces basic concepts of sales and marketing.

The courses are offered online and through several colleges across Canada as part of a larger curriculum, according to Steve McDermott, Senior Manager, Education and Training at CIFFA. “More and more colleges are interested in our program and supply chain and logistics is being added to their curriculums. For example, Discovery College in Surrey, B.C., National Academy of Health and Business in Mississauga and Academy Canada in Newfoundland have all expressed an interest in our program. Our biggest supporter is Trios College with eight or nine campuses across Ontario.”

On the marine side, Ontario’s Georgian College has been offering three-year programs in Marine Technology and Marine Engineering at its Owen Sound campus for over 35 years, according to Colin MacNeil, marine programs coordinator. It is one of six Transport Canada Marine Safety recognized training facilities across Canada. The others are Memorial University’s School of Maritime Studies in St. John’s, Nova Scotia Community College in Sydney, the Canadian Coast Guard College in Halifax, the Institut Maritime du Québec in Rimouski and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (Marine Campus).

Georgian College takes in some 50 students a year with an attrition rate of about 30 per cent over the three-year program, which is lower than some programs like mechanical engineering, Mr. MacNeil noted, and explained why. “We’re educating people to be professional mariners and they know exactly what they’re getting into, because we’re up front. They know they’ll be away from friends and family for six to eight months. If they can do that, they can look forward to a challenging and rewarding career with opportunities for advancement.”

Marine technology covers the navigation side of the business, while marine engineering covers the mechanical side. Some people know what they want, while others are stuck in the middle. “If they’re stuck in the middle, we try to encourage them to opt for the engineering side where there is greater demand,” said Mr. MacNeil.

All six colleges teach standard courses and meet as a group twice a year with Transport Canada’s Marine Advisory Council that set those standards and where the six institutions learn about new education training requirements. And all maritime countries, including Canada, are members of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations’ specialized agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. The IMO sets standards and any changes to educational requirements are incorporated into the curriculum of the six Canadian marine colleges.

The future looks bright for graduates, according to Mr. MacNeil. “The industry is telling us there’s a shortage of navigation officers and the challenge is promoting junior officers to senior officers. Likewise, marine engineering is where the jobs are now.” That’s because all the major shipping companies like Fednav and CSL are building ships in China which will largely be crewed by Canadians.

The Shipping Federation of Canada offers a certificate course in Marine Transportation in partnership with Montreal’s Concordia University’s Centre for Continuing Education. “The intent of the course is not to recruit new people, but to professionalize those already in the industry,” explained Karen Kancens, Director, Communications and corporate secretary at the Federation. “We’re targeting people who are starting out. We plan to graduate about twenty this June and there have been about a hundred graduates since we first started in 1996.” The university level program consists of five courses each 42 hours long done in sequence that cover an introduction to shipping, vessel husbandry and port operations, customs and documentation, commercial and contractual aspects of shipping and practical chartering. “It offers real life learning and professional development,” said Ms. Kancens. It would appeal to a wide range of disciplines such as container companies, booking or finance departments, law firms involved in maritime law and anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of the shipping industry.”