• Nik Payne on board the cargo ship. Photo TAFE.
    Nik Payne on board the cargo ship. Photo TAFE.
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The number of people working as marine transport professionals may have fallen over the past five years, but the tide is turning and the industry is now expecting jobs growth. The Australian Government Jobs Outlook has forecast around 2,000 job openings over the five years to 2023*.

This means greater opportunities for local seafarers such as Nik Payne from The Hill. Mr Payne was the winner of last year’s $10,000 Barker Maritime Scholarship and he is encouraging others to apply for the 2019 scholarship, which has now opened for entries.

Mr Payne has been a commercial tug boat captain on Newcastle Harbour for five years. He is currently sailing as a qualified Officer on one of the biggest container ships in the world, sailing between Singapore, Malaysia, China and Korea to gain the sea time he needs to achieve a Master Mariner’s certificate.

“I decided to apply for the Barker Maritime Scholarship to support my plan to further my TAFE NSW maritime studies. Someone heard my story and my goals and rewarded me for it, and it has boosted my career,” he said.

“When you work hard for something because you’re passionate about it and someone acknowledges you for it, there’s no better motivation towards reaching your goal than it being reinforced that you’re on the right track.

“The scholarship was the next stepping stone needed to further my career to become a Master Mariner Unlimited, which is the pinnacle qualification in the Merchant Navy to becoming an Unlimited Captain.

“I’m still very grateful to have won, I know a lot of applicants applied. It’s a fantastic award and I feel really fortunate to have achieved it. I would encourage anyone in the industry who is eligible to apply for it.”

Mr Payne’s advice to those considering applying is clear: “Take the time to apply, write down your goals of where you want to be in five years’ time and formulate your cover letter based around that. Be realistic, but aim high.”

Those interested should visit www.tafensw.edu.au/enrol/payment-funding/scholarships/barker-maritime.

The Barker Maritime Scholarship is a Hunter TAFE Foundation scholarship that was established in 2008 by the late Don Barker and the Barker family. Open to anyone who works for a company that utilises the Port of Newcastle, it encourages people employed in the maritime industry to further their education at TAFE NSW and participate in professional development that will help advance their career.

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