SINGAPORE - If he had stayed at his previous job, there would be no way he could have earned more in the future.
Wanting a better life for his family and to provide for his children's education, he took up a programme that would let him take up seafaring roles.
When he graduates, Mr Clarence Raj Emmanuel will be able to earn at least $3,000 a month as a deck officer on ships.
And if the 30-year-old works his way up to the captain level, he can earn more than $10,000 monthly.
To train more Singaporeans to make up the core of the maritime industry, the Singapore Maritime Officers' Union, together with the Employment and Employability Institute, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Singapore Shipping Association, started the Tripartite Nautical Training Award.
This is because the Government wants to attract more Singaporeans to take up jobs in the maritime industry as they have good prospects and are well-paying.
Said Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin last Friday: "Seafaring careers can provide good career prospects and wages, and we want to see more of these well-paying jobs going to Singaporeans."
He was attending the Maritime Manpower Singapore 2013, a biennial conference for the maritime industry and its tripartite partners to present, examine and discuss current maritime issues.
Mr Clarence, who stopped studying after his O levels, was earning about $2,000 in his previous jobs as an outlet supervisor in a restaurant and a marine assistant. He said: "I was comfortable, but I didn't see myself getting anywhere financially."
After getting married and having two children, he realised that he may not be able to provide for the education of his daughter, five, and son, seven.
He said: "My son badly wants to be a doctor or a veterinarian and my daughter wants to be a teacher.
"Education is not cheap. In the long run, if they want to go to the university, I wouldn't be able to afford it."
So Mr Clarence is willing to sacrifice by taking a pay cut while undergoing training.
He gets a $1,200 monthly allowance as he is in the first six months of the course. It rises to $1,400 after that.
His wife, Madam Shalini Kanan, 28, left her full-time job as a legal secretary to look after the children. She contributes to the family income by working as a part-time administrative assistant and a freelance pet groomer.
She is looking for a full-time job after she managed to put their children in child care and day care.
Said Mr Clarence, who is the oldest in his class : "If I don't do this now, they will miss out more. I'm doing this now (so that) they will have a better future."
Course lasts over 30 months
More than $6 million has been poured in to build Singapore's maritime core.
A total of 108 Singaporeans have taken up the Tripartite Nautical Training Award, which will lead candidates towards the Singapore Certificate of Competency (CoC) Class 3 qualifications issued by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.
Candidates undergo six months of presea training, where they receive $1,200 monthly. They then sail as cadets for 18 months, receiving $1,400 each month.
They return for 6½ months of training at the Singapore Maritime Academy, getting the same allowance of $1,400 before sitting for their CoC Class 3 examinations.
The Singapore Workforce Development Agency and the Singapore Maritime Officers' Union fund 80 per cent and 10 per cent of the course fee respectively.
The trainees themselves pay the remaining 10 per cent.
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