Maritime Academy makes strong case for value of postsecondary education, also underscores importance of global trade

The opening of a new maritime training facility at Seattle Central College provides strong evidence of the value and importance of postsecondary credentials. The Seattle Times reports

Completing one of the nine-month certificates, followed by an internship, provides an entry-point into the maritime business, said [director of the maritime academy Sarah] Sherer, who spent 13 years piloting oceangoing vessels. People working in the maritime industry typically start with entry-level jobs after earning one of the certificates and work their way up the career ladder while employed on a ship.

Scherer said there’s a big return on investment for a certificate in marine technology. The nine-month courses cost $9,000. After a short internship, students can earn $40,000 to $60,000 for six months of work.

Last week, we wrote of the Washington Roundtable and Boston Consulting Group report of 740,000 new job openings in our state in the next five years. The key to landing one of those great jobs, the report says, is completing a postsecondary credential. But only 31 percent of Washington students go on to earn a credential after high school. That number must double if the new jobs are to be claimed by graduates of Washington schools.

Scherer told the Seattle Times of growing demand for the credentials offered by the maritime academy.

She said the academy teaches about 36 students a year — 18 in each program. There’s usually a waiting list for the engineering program, and the one for deck technology is becoming more well-known. With the added space, the academy could potentially double the number of students it teaches, she said.

The story also helps punctuate the importance of the maritime industry to our state, about which we wrote yesterday. Further, the maritime programs tie directly to Washington’s leadership role in global trade. Yesterday, the Washington Research Council reported on a new study showing just how much our state depends on global trade. 

The Peterson Institute for International Economics recently evaluated the trade policies of presidential candidates Clinton and Trump. The report… shows what would happen in the event of a full trade war (defined as occurring should the U.S. impose “a 45 percent tariff on nonoil imports from China and a 35 percent tariff on nonoil imports from Mexico. China and Mexico respond symmetrically, imposing the same tariffs on US exports.”)

The report finds, “Washington State is the worst affected, with 5 percent private sector job loss, followed by California, Massachusetts, and Michigan in the 4.5–5 percent range.”

That’s a worst-case scenario, of course, and unlikely to occur. But it’s a great reminder of Washington’s unique trade position, a position that allows incredible career opportunities for students who earn the necessary credentials.