Detroit – Johnny McMath, 28, has worked in a variety of work and hospitality roles over the past decade. He is now looking for a new experience.
“I want to see what it’s like to work on a boat…” the Detroit resident said. “Being at sea for a few weeks at a time.”
That desire — and his fiancée’s encouragement — brought McMath to the Detroit Maritime Job Fair on Tuesday, the first the Port Authority of Detroit-Wayne County has held to give Metro Detroit residents better access to jobs on the water. The job fair at 130 Atwater Street was held in a room overlooking the Detroit River and the RiverWalk.
Available positions range from deckhands and pilots to chefs and housekeepers. The six employers who participated in the event were: American Queen Voyages, Seafarers International Union, Nicholson Terminal & Dock Company, American Steamship Company, Evans Distribution Systems and Kuehne + Nagel.
There are many job opportunities in the maritime industry that can take people to the United States, elsewhere in North America and around the world, said Christopher McClain, director of business development for the Port County Authority. Detroit Wayne.
“We try to connect local people,” he said. “We are spreading this as openly and as widely as possible.”
Attendees from the nonprofit Teach/Empower/Achieve of Detroit and the Mariners Inn Shelter were also encouraged to seek employment at the event.
No experience is required for some positions, McClain said. The Seafarers International Union, for example, offers maritime training in Maryland, and the Port Authority of Detroit-Wayne County helps sponsor applicants with uniforms and passports.
“Once you get out and are certified and trained under their program, you can continue to work in the maritime industry, but also the transferable skills you learn like in cooking or hospitality, you can take them wherever you go,” McClain said. .
Martell Stephens, 26, of Detroit, said he was looking for a career he would enjoy over the next 20 to 30 years. He said a mentor told him about the job fair.
“I’ve worked since I was 18, 17, but I’ve never really had a career or something (where) I can get a 401(k) or a pension,” he said.
Stephens said he had held jobs including sales and security, but always sought higher pay.
“I try to put something in the bag before I get too old,” he said.
Stephens said he was considering a position in maritime logistics.
American Queen Voyages, which operates cruises on American rivers, was looking for candidates to be deckhands, waiters, pursers and housekeepers.
“That’s it,” said Angela Jackson, director of human resources for American Queen Voyages. “It really is. We’re a hotel on the water, so to speak. We’re on a steamer, an overnight riverboat cruise, so we have the hotel, the hospitality side. But we have to move this boat forward, so we have the engineering and the navigation part.
There is room for business growth, Jackson said, adding that one of the captains of the American Queen Voyage started out as a housekeeping attendant.
“I went from cleaning rooms to being a four-band officer running his ship,” she said.
American Queen Voyages is a full-time employer with crew members working six weeks at a time with two to three weeks off in between. Pay ranges from $175 a day for entry-level positions to more than $1,000 a day for a four-band officer, Jackson said.
As for McMath, he works as a general laborer in a warehouse and has worked in the hospitality industry as a dishwasher, waiter and sous chef.
“You name it, I probably did,” he said.
McMath said he met four employers at the event and plans to track two. He has an interview with American Queen Voyages later this week, he said.
“Hopefully it’s about to be a step in a new direction,” he said. “It’s exciting. I’ve been looking forward to starting a new job for a while.
For more information, potential applicants can call (313) 259-5091 or visit www.portdetroit.com.