Print Aug 17, 2017

NYK-TDG Maritime Academy/Footsteps of the past 10 years aimed at the future of NTMA:He is one of our rising stars

First Officer Gonzales is a member of the first graduating class.(He is the second from the right)

NYK-TDG Maritime Academy (NTMA), which was jointly established in 2007 by NYK and the major Filipino company TDG, recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of its founding. On July 8, a ceremony commemorating the anniversary was held at the academy and attended by a large number of people from the maritime industry, as well as graduates, current students and their families. What meaning does this maritime academy, which was established in the Philippines through a direct investment by a Japanese shipping line, have for the future of the shipping industry in Japan? This article investigates from the Philippine the role played by the academy.

”Liel Reyes Gonzales, First Officer, Class of 2011”

When his name was called, the venue erupted in cheers. Five years after graduating from the academy and working aboard NYK ships, he was the first to be promoted to First Officer. First Officer Gonzales is also a member of the first graduating class. “He is one ofour rising stars.” The current students, their eyes filled with hope, loudly called out his name.

■Project to create a backbone of support for the company

When NTMA was established in 2007, the shipping industry was in the middle of an unprecedented bubble. NYK had formulated plans to expand its fleet from 750 ships to 900. There is no doubt that the initial aim of establishing NTMA was as a measure against the looming shortage of seafarers at NYK.

However, NYK Board Counselor Koji Miyahara, who was president of the company at the time, emphasizes that the project was not conducted based on “profit and loss calculations.” I will not go so far as to say that it was to contribute to society. However, ultimately, my only hope was that the academy could successfully play a role in training seafarers in the Philippines.“Actually, Miyahara spoke to the same reporter in the same place 10years ago, where he said, “It is a project that looks 10 or 20 years in the future. If we were interested in making money, we would do it elsewhere. This is a project to createa strong backbone of support for NYK.”

■Finding the “right path”

NTMA has a strong impression of being an “elite school” given its 100% pass rate in the national examination. However, when First Officer Gonzales, who is now 31 years old, enrolled, he was right on the edge of the admissions requirements at the time given he was 21 years old. He had graduated from an engineering school but still did not know what he wanted to do with his life.

“At that time, all of my friends were already working. I had no clear objective for enrolling, such as a strong desire to become a seafarer, but after enrolling, I became convinced that this is likely the right path forme.”

He woke up at 5 AM, and after an afternoon filled with curriculum work, he studied in the study room until lights out at 10 PM. Even when reflecting on these tough days, he said, “It was this hard work that enabled me to achieve my rapid promotion.”

Once, while working aboard a ship, one of First Officer Gonzales’superiors said something he will never forget.

“The good things you should continue. The bad things you should forget and quickly startover. (In your good work and your bad,) Somebody is always watching you. Never forget that.”

In addition to First Officer Gonzales, other current students responded similarly. At first, they did not have a strong desire to become a seafarer, and parents, relatives or acquaintances recommended the academy.

However, that all changed after they enrolled. “I have found the right path for myself and am able to picture my future.” First Officer Gonzales has become an idol among these current students.