The American Radio Association has launched an effort to broaden its base and address the shortage of technical personnel in the world of skilled shipboard communications and electronics officers.
According to Kelly Anderson, this labor shortage is “possibly due to a lack of awareness of this interesting career path,” even as the need for skilled electronics technicians and engineers aboard ships has been growing.
Anderson is president of The ARA, which is the labor union representing communications and electronics officers for commercial shipping companies and government contractors who own/operate U.S. ocean-going vessels. In addition to maintaining shipboard electronics, radio electronics officers have jurisdiction of computer systems, entertainment systems and cryptographic systems on some vessels.
The ARA is recruiting candidates who:
- possess the ability and flexibility to learn new systems
- read and interpret technical manuals and schematics
- troubleshoot and repair equipment
- have good communications skills and
- must have a desire to work on board ships for up to six months annually.
“In the early days, the industry only needed radio operators skilled in Morse Code who could get messages to and from the mainland. It’s quite different today,” Anderson said. “Now, radio and electronics officers are at the forefront of maintenance and repair of modern communications, navigation, and automation electronics aboard the newest U.S. flag ships, all over the world.”
The ARA is a member of the AFL/CIO and is also an affiliate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The ARA emphasizes wages, benefits and worker protections as membership benefits.