It’s been almost a year since I started writing the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) examinations and it has the magical property of never seeming to get completed.
This article is for the benefit of all those who are pondering out there about what these exams are, what ICS is and the quintessential question, “I, being a marine engineer, should I do it or not?” and the famous,” Is this going to help me to branch out to shore jobs?” Having been on the receiving end of these questions and having done a fair amount of staring blankly at faces asking these questions, I decided to “man-up” and clear a little confusion for my brethren maritime folks.
The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS)
For the convenience of the techies (me included), let me set the scene for you.
Early 1911. London town.
A plethora of ships with various cargoes were berthed around the pier of Thames, bustling with activity on both the banks right up to the city centre. Britain’s extensive coal trade was at its prime with a huge volume of trade being carried out every day.
Of course, it would be erroneous if I proclaimed Britain was the only country with a large maritime activity going on at that time. But none of those maritime centres came close to handling the large volume of business that the Baltic Exchange saw on a regular basis. Thus a group of shipbrokers in 1911 decided to form an organisation which would maintain the ethical standards of shipping business, set by The Baltic Exchange.
It was slowly understood that the maintenance of ethical standards required more than mutual desire and the ICS morphed into an organisation responsible for setting the quality of education and training for those in the maritime business. Thus was born the ICS, when it received the Royal Charter in 1920, with aims to regulate the shipping business standards with training and discipline of its professionals.
The professional standing which the institute confers comprises Membership (MICS) for those who pass the qualifying exams and are experienced in the service of shipping. Those who attain positions of influence in the profession may apply for promotion to Fellowship (FICS) and may then call themselves “Chartered Shipbrokers”
The exams require one to be competent in seven different disciplines ranging from ship operations, legal principles in shipping to dry cargo, tanker chartering and shipping finance and the candidate is free to choose and specialise in three unique fields apart from the four mandatory courses.
If interested in knowing more or applying for these exams visit: www.ics.org.uk
Will it help the Average Shippy?
Let me begin by saying that my opinions rendered in this regard are purely personal and have been shaped by conversations with senior professionals in the commercial shipping industry.
If you ever dream of bidding adieu to the clear blue skies and the translucent waters and becoming a “landlubber”, now or in the future, your background in the maritime industry coupled with the ICS qualifications will position you conveniently to secure a role of your choice in commercial shipping.
That apart, the networking opportunities offered to you during the preparatory season by the institute are unmatched by any other of its kind in the maritime industry.
So when I asked a senior industry professional whether it will be useful to me in the future, he said, “Oh! It will. But just like any other qualification out there, it will get your foot in the door but whether you really get inside that door depends on how hard you can shove after that!!!”