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19 February 2024

Making inland shipping more sustainable and professional in Vietnam


PUM together with the Maritime Academy Harlingen (MAH), will enter a multi-year cooperation with the Waterway Transport College (WTC1) in Vietnam. The aim of the programme is to further professionalise inland shipping education in Vietnam through a dedicated train-the-trainer programme in which teachers at WTC1 will be trained in competence-based education. The programme is made possible by financial support from the Dutch embassy in Vietnam and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

Vietnam has an extensive network of rivers and canals, two major river deltas and more than 3,000 kilometres of coastline. Inland navigation is fundamental to the daily functioning of Vietnam’s economy. Inland waterways account for a significant share of the freight market for both domestic and international routes and are the backbone for transporting bulk commodities such as construction materials, coal, fertiliser and rice. Besides its economic importance, inland shipping also offers a more sustainable, efficient, and thus climate-friendly alternative to freight transport by road, which is one of the main reasons for RVO to support this programme.


Innovative and future-oriented approach
There are many developments in the field of making shipping more sustainable, Meeuwis van Wirdum, Head of Innovation and Simulator Centre at the Maritime Academy Harlingen, also observes: “Driven by professionalisation, efficiency and environmental objectives, we see the nautical sector changing fast and far-reaching. Things like automation, robotisation, but certainly also sustainability and green, alternative propulsion and fuels are becoming increasingly important.” The Maritime Academy Harlingen offers vocational training in inland and coastal shipping, and yacht and shipbuilding. The lecturers of this practical training have targeted knowledge and skills. It also uses a fleet of its own training ships where students can gain practical experience and a modern simulator where what is learned can be trained in a safe way. “In our new simulator centre, students receive sailing lessons in a virtual environment on state-of-the-art inland and maritime simulators. Ships and simulators are essential as learning tools and are being used more and more effectively in education. MAH, in cooperation with companies and courses, fulfils an important role as a regional and inter(national) training and knowledge centre in the maritime sector and we look forward to sharing this knowledge with the teachers at WTC1 in Vietnam.”

The cooperation came about after an intensive and lengthy preparation process by PUM expert Martin Hoenderkamp. Martin: “The main objective of the cooperation is to use a tailor-made training programme to enhance the WTC1 lecturers’ ability to provide competence-based education in a number of areas that will be crucial for the inland navigation sector in the coming years. Topics such as progressive fuel economy, passenger transport, the use of radar and the operation of LNG-powered vessels are on the programme.

Ms Thanh Ha
Teacher at WTC1

“We are very happy to receive support from PUM and the Harlingen Maritime Academy. With the international knowledge and expertise of their lecturers, we can make a professionalisation and sustainability effort. We are proud that more and more girls are also choosing an education at WTC1 and will later find a career in the maritime sector. Our students will soon be even better prepared to find a decent job in inland navigation in Vietnam or elsewhere in the world. That will make a positive contribution to promoting the sustainable development of the inland waterway transport industry in particular, and the transport industry in general.”

Next, a number of teachers from the WTC will be invited for a learning programme at the Maritime Academy in Harlingen and we will set up a buddy system whereby we will pair teachers and students from the WTC1 with teachers and students from the MAH so that ongoing peer supervision and support can be provided.”