The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) will host its first-ever Maritime Education & Training conference next month in Cape Town, the organisation has announced.

The event will focus on the impact of technology on the maritime industry and how to deliver skills to meet the sector's needs. It will take place at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology from November 14-17, 2017.

“Technology is all-pervasive, impacting on all aspects of economic and human activity,” SAIMI said in its formal call for papers. “As South Africa and many maritime countries seek to grow their participation in the oceans economy, there is a need to ensure that maritime education and training meets the needs of the global maritime industry that has already embraced digitalisation.

“Training for seafarers, and other sectors of the maritime economy, must meet and go beyond current standards so that qualified South Africans can compete on the international maritime job market,” the statement said.

The conference is one of several recent initiatives aimed at addressing South Africa's maritime skills deficit, which the government hopes to overcome in order to grow the 'blue economy'. Luxury boatbuilding is considered one of the key components of this potential growth, with the country already a major player in the luxury catamaran global market.

SAIMI itself was launched in 2015 in response to a 2011 Maritime Skills Summit which specifically addressed the maritime skills deficit. The institution, based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, is now considered the country's lead academic organisation in the maritime field.

November's conference will “provide an opportunity for stakeholders to interact and discuss the inter-linked impact and influences of technology on Maritime Education & Training (MET) institutions, maritime businesses (manufacturers, shipping companies, service providers etc), regulators and authorities, and those working in the sector,” the SAIMI statement said. “The aim is to find solutions for MET in South Africa that are relevant to local conditions and based on international best practice in a global industry.”