Washington State Ferries teams with Seattle Maritime Academy to address worker shortage

School to host public tour and information session April 12

SEATTLE – A worldwide shortage of mariners has resulted in reduced state ferry service and long wait times for customers on multiple routes. Recruiting engine room crews is especially challenging right now and why Washington State Ferries is looking to increase interest and enrollment at Seattle Maritime Academy.

Around one-in-four of WSF’s current engine room employees graduated from the maritime academy and it’s critical to ferry customers and the Puget Sound region that this workforce pipeline continues to flow. For people interested in a fast track to a family-wage job at WSF, the academy hosts monthly public tours and information sessions on the second Tuesday of each month, with the next occurring at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12.  

“Engine room employees are a part of ferry operations that a lot of people don’t know exist, yet they’re absolutely vital to ensure the largest ferry system in North America can safely serve the people of Washington,” said WSF Chief of Staff Nicole McIntosh. “The jobs can pay more than $60 per hour and once on board there is a clear career path.”

“There’s huge demand for merchant mariners, not just at Washington State Ferries, but across the entire industry,” said academy Associate Dean Dale Bateman, who hopes to reach people who may have never thought about a career in the maritime sector. “We offer a fast-track program to train the next generation of mariners. Students in the marine engineering technology unit can graduate and be on the water in as little as a year.”

The enrollment outreach, as well as ongoing WSF recruitment, encourages people from communities of color, women and other under-represented groups in the maritime industry to consider maritime training and careers.

The Seattle Maritime Academy is part of Seattle Central Community College and the facility is located on the shore of Lake Union in Seattle. Marine engineering students train in classrooms, aboard vessels and in a state-of-the-art engine room simulator.

WSF, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and safely and efficiently carries tens of millions of people a year through some of the most majestic scenery in the world. For breaking news and the latest information, follow WSF on Twitter and Facebook.

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