AMSOL is delighted to have achieved third place jointly with Ernst &Young (EY) for the ‘Women Empowerment in the Workplace Award’ at the Gender Mainstreaming Awards which took place in Johannesburg on Thursday, 5th September for its progress in sustainably increasing the representation of women working at sea in its bunker barge fleet from 8% to 20%, and for effectively using an Able Seaman (AB) Trainee Programme to support inclusivity. 

Globally, only 2% of the maritime industry workforce comprises women both at sea and ashore. AMSOL has been able to increase the representation of women in the workforce from 8% to 14% in just 3 years through a deliberately changed approach to internship programmes, cadet schemes and recruitment practices. And in its bunker barge fleet of three barges, which operate in the Ports of Durban and Richards Bay, 20% of the workforce is now comprised of women; 30% of whom are working at Officer (Management) level, with one qualified as a Barge Master.

Specifically for the bunker barge operation, the AB Trainee programme supports the talent pipeline and enables women to enter the workforce and then move up the ranks. Given the shortage of employment opportunities, exposure and sea time in the maritime sector, the training programme has filled a great need – and with its shift system, offers women greater work/life balance than that of traditional seagoing roles, while still providing an opportunity to progress in this male-dominated industry. The programme was designed to include all statutory training combined with seagoing experience required to achieve a Port Operations Certificate of Competency. Of the 12 trainees currently on the AB Trainee programme, 5 are women, and an additional 3 previous participants were promoted in recent weeks.

The AB Trainee programme is managed on a day-to-day basis by the AMSOL Human Resources/Crewing Department in Durban. They work closely with the Fleet Operations Manager and onboard leadership to ensure effective implementation of the programme; balancing the crewing of shifts to provide adequate exposure for those on the programme. As an ISO certified company, AMSOL’s HR Management processes, systems and practices comply with high international standards, supporting the effective management of this initiative.

The activities of the bunker barges take place within the Harbour as these specialist vessels deliver fuel to vessels calling at the Port. It is a high-risk, high skill operation requiring dedicated focus on Safety, Health, Environmental Protection and Quality.

Providing employment in this way and sustaining a more diverse work environment at sea has empowered these women, the majority of whom are breadwinners. This is also impacted by the fact that permanent employees of AMSOL own 12% of the company and benefit as shareholders too.

AMSOL’s progress reflects a changing maritime industry and a different approach that highlights the power and impact deliberate implementation of policies and practices that support inclusivity. And the company anticipates a return on investment in the future as a sustainable, diverse talent pipeline thrives.