What does the Future hold for Maritime HR?

October 25, 20168:45 am992 views

As the world of maritime HR struggles to keep pace with a changing shipping landscape, what does the future of crew management and recruitment look like?

For those working in the industry, the future of maritime human resources is a key consideration. With the latest BIMCO/ICS Manpower Report predicting a potential shortage of almost 150,000 officers by 2025, the need for change in direction is clear.

Technology advancements in the shipping industry as a whole is urging shift in mind-set, and encouraging deeper understanding on how to improve efficiency without hindering the safety of our crews and vessels.

In our latest CrewConnect event, we spoke to industry leaders predicting the future of maritime HR, and sought guidance on how to be prepare for what’s coming up.

How is Maritime Training Evolving?

Nor-Shipping Director, Birgit Marie Liodden explains how the maritime HR industry is changing at a rapid pace, identifying two primary strands of change at work. “We’re now in two different shifts”, she says. “We have sustainable shifts where business needs to take more responsibility to solve global problems, and we have the digital shift that enables us to work in a whole new way. Both of these shifts are actually very attractive to the next generation.”

From a strategic standpoint, the focus is changing with the technology towards training and safety. “Our ships are more technologically advanced than ever, so the training focus needs to shift in some areas,” says Captain Robert Fay, Senior Vice President at IRI Marshall Islands Registry.

With more importance being placed on core competencies and how the skill-sets of the world’s seafarers are set to evolve, training institutions are making significant changes to ensure cadets are future-ready.

“In training, there are a lot more e-platforms coming out and apps which are accessible to seafarers, both ashore and onboard, which is revolutionising training”, says Adam Lewis, Operations and Training Manager at IMEC. “Another aspect is, if you look at things like simulators – they’re getting a lot more realistic so we’re able to do a lot more competency-based training and assessment in quite safe environments.”

How far will the technology take us?

On land, we’re living in the age of automated transport where unmanned vehicles and drones are being used and tested worldwide. The shipping industry, having lagged behind many other sectors in technology terms, is now facing the enigma of the ‘autonomous ship’ as a possible move towards a more sustainable future.

For many, the idea of unmanned ships is unimaginable, conjuring the image of an unrecognisable industry no longer steeped in tradition. “In some small markets, they’re talking about unmanned ships,” says Captain Robert Fay. “I don’t think I’ll ever see unmanned vessels in my lifetime crossing the Atlantic – no shipper wants to put their millions of dollars of freight and cargo in a vessel and trust that it’s going to show up on the other side of the ocean without the proper care and handling of qualified seafarers.”

Others are considering the prospect in more detail and investing heavily in further research. “We at Solent University are undertaking research into unmanned ships and remote control of ships in ports,” says Alan Cartwright, Commercial Manager at Warsash Maritime Academy. “But we’ve got to do it with our eyes open so that we see that those ships are going to be safe.”

With major companies like Rolls-Royce already designing unmanned cargo ships , and the European Union funding a 3.5 million-euro ($4.8 million) study called the Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks project (MUNIN), the concept is gaining traction and presents a real possibility for years to come.

How do we ensure recovery for the short-term?

But the autonomous ship is a long way off, if indeed it becomes a reality, and maritime HR professionals today are faced with the growing problem of an ageing workforce and a lack of incentive for the younger generation.

“It needs to be people-driven”, says Carien Droppers, Deputy Secretary General at Paris MoU. “It’s important that employers realise that, they need motivated people because that also enhances the safety culture.”

Many see the move towards digital innovation and technology-enhanced training as vital in attracting and recruiting for the short-term. Birgit Marie Liodden stresses the need to veer away from traditional stereotypes in the search for the right talent.

“If we manage to highlight and emphasise that we’re moving in a different direction now, and also pushing forward some good role models for the industry that represent some different stereotypes than the ones we usually see in the media, I think that’s a big important part of that job of recruiting the right set of talents for the future”, she says.

For Phil Parry, Chairman of Spinnaker Global, the solution lies in reforming the maritime industry to keep pace with the wider world: “As an industry we always argue that we’re different and that shipping has issues that are not the same as those faced by other industries, but I think that is largely an excuse for getting away with being behind the times. So the future of maritime HR should look like every other industry does already.”

Content credits: crewconnectblog.com


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