January 15, 2021, was a big day for Du Fuqiang, a 27-year-old man from Tanchang county, a formerly poverty-stricken area in China’s Gansu province. On this day, Du and 19 other young men, who all hail from China’s interior and had never seen the sea before, completed their training to become seafarers at the National Western Maritime Training Base in Shaanxi province. With the completion of their training, they have all gained a pass to explore the world’s vast oceans and an opportunity to live a new life.
Du and his fellow classmates arrived at the ASEAN-China Smart Ocean Practical Program four months ago. After finishing the 434 required hours of study and passing five examinations, they have mastered necessary seaman skills, including marine security knowledge, knot tying and heaving lines, among others.
“Thanks to the program, I now have the chance to become a sailor and see a different world from my home town. The job will also help improve the life of my family,” said Du Fuqiang at the closing ceremony of the training program.
According to the training plan, the trainees who meet the program’s standards will be recruited by famous shipping companies at home and abroad with a promised salary of no less than $1,600 a month.
The ASEAN-China Smart Ocean Practical Program was organized by the ASEAN-China Smart Ocean Center (ACSOC) at Tianjin University’s School of Marine Science and Technology (SMST) and co-sponsored by the Tianjin Maritime Safety Administration, the People’s Government of Tanchang County, Yan’an Vocational and Technical College and Tianjin University of Technology. It aims to provide young people from poverty-stricken areas in Gansu province and Shaanxi province with useful skills and new job opportunities.
"In the future, ACSOC will make full use of our resources in marine education and organize more skill training programs for people in West China, especially those in less developed areas. We believe that helping people find suitable jobs is an efficient way to help them get rid of poverty,” said Ling Guowei, the Party secretary of SMST.