New career pathways opened into maritime industry

  • Alternative pathways to become a marine pilot at the port of Port Hedland
  • Providing learning and employment opportunities in the Pilbara for women and youth
  • Pilbara Ports’ marine simulator is supporting marine pilot training

A new employment program at Western Australia’s busiest bulk export port is creating a younger and more diverse pool of talent to enter the highly specialised career of marine pilotage.

Marine pilots provide an essential service at Port Hedland by navigating big bulk iron ore carriers safely in and out of the harbour.

The Pilbara Ports marine pilotage employment program uses on-water training, simulators, prior experience recognition, and technical competency assessments to improve training efficiency – without compromising the high safety standards required to pilot vessels through Port Hedland’s waters.

Pilbara Ports’ pilotage team has grown to 16 pilots, with more jobs to come, as strong economic conditions across the Pilbara, and projects like the Lumsden Point development – supported by the Federal and State Government – increase demand for port services.

Pilbara Ports partnered with North Regional TAFE to relocate simulator equipment from its Broome campus, to the new Port Hedland facility, including a replica ship bridge.

The new marine simulation facility contains digital replicas of nine different ports, providing a simulated training experience in a variety of vessels, as well as different locations, weather conditions, currents, tides, and times of day.

On a visit to Pilbara Port’s new marine simulator facility in Port Hedland today, Ports Minister David Michael put the equipment through its paces, under the watchful eye of its recently formed internal team of marine pilots.

Pilbara Ports is also improving diversity in the maritime industry, where women account for less than two per cent of the global workforce.

A female marine pilot recently joined Pilbara Ports, and is expected to be fully licensed early 2024, with a second due to commence at the same time.

While retaining the level of competency required, Pilbara Ports has developed alternative training pathways for mariners coming from a variety of career backgrounds, who wish to pursue a career in pilotage or other advanced maritime roles.

The marine pilotage program addresses the short-to-medium term provision of marine pilotage services, and builds on the existing Marine Cadetship Program, a long-term strategy to provide young local adults with a career pathway into the maritime industry.

As stated by Ports Minister David Michael:

“Visiting the Marine Simulation Centre in Port Hedland today was a fantastic opportunity to understand the complexity of navigating vessels in and out of the port of Port Hedland.

“More than 3,000 vessels visited the port of Port Hedland in 2022-23, transporting 566.5 million tonnes of cargo – mainly iron ore.

“By implementing programs such as these, Pilbara Ports is ensuring it continues to deliver economic returns for the State, while also removing significant barriers to employment in the maritime industry.”

/Public Release. View in full here.