ADDRESSING THE OFFICERS SHORTAGE THROUGH THE BRIDGING PROGRAM Elizabeth Orola Salabas President, VMA Global College Presented at the PAMI-PAMTCI Round Table Discussion, June 23 – 26, 2010 ABSTRACT In response to the worldwide shortage of qualified marine engineers, the Philippine Government through the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), in collaboration with the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC), the Maritime Training Council (MTC), Overseas Workers’ Welfare Association (OWWA) which later extended incentive to sponsoring companies and in consultation with qualified experts from the academe and the maritime industry, designed an educational and training program for the graduates of Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering to earn a degree in Marine Engineering and qualify for the PRC licensure examination for Marine Engineer, OIC Level. Piloted by the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), fifteen (15) other CHED recognized and certified as STCW compliant maritime institutions were authorized as program providers: VMA Global College (VMA), Technical Institute of the Philippines (TIP), Asian Institute of Maritime Studies (AIMS), Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation (MPCF) – Baras & Legaspi, Philippine Merchant Marine Academy, Northern Phil. Col. For Maritime Educ. & Tech’l Studies, Pangasinan Merchant Marine Academy (PaMMA), John B Lacson Colleges Foundation University-Molo , University of Cebu-METC, Capitol University, DMMA College of Southern Philippines, Dr. Yanga’s Francisco Balagtas Colleges, FEATI University and University of Perpetual Help-Rizal. With the efficient support of manning companies, the Bridging Program produced cadets, who demonstrated competence and on-the-job readiness with majority extended onboard promotions. Likewise with the aid of review centers, the Bridging cadets gave very satisfactory passing performance from 2008 to present. More importantly, with loyalty and discipline inculcated in them through rigid academic, physical and psychological training, the Bridging Program has produced competent Marine Engine Officers, now continuously serving their respective sponsoring companies.