In part two of this two-part series on human capital in shipping – a key theme at Europort 2023 – Captain Kuba Szymanski shares his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities surrounding seafarer training, recruitment and retention in today’s highly competitive, technology-driven industry.
As Secretary General for InterManager, the only organisation dedicated to representing the ship-management industry, Captain Kuba Szymanski is well placed to comment on the evolving relationship between vessel technology and seafarer expertise.
In his view, the development of automated and remote shipping processes should help crew to execute their duties rather than shift decision-making responsibilities from ship to shore: “Shipping’s resilience and reliability is and always has been thanks to independently minded seafarers. Industry best practice is therefore to create a business model in which shore-based operations centres facilitate, assist and support proper decision-making at sea.”
Keeping up with the pace of change
However, given the regulatory changes that come with technological advancement, the industry is under mounting pressure to bring seafarers up to speed, Captain Szymanski continues. “The introduction of new rules and regulations creates demand for new skills. Keeping abreast of these changes is a challenge for maritime universities and colleges, and we envisage a temporary situation in which these institutions might struggle to deliver new competencies in time. Our members are therefore gearing up to provide training themselves, often in partnership with well-established training centres.”
Improve shipping’s image to attract new recruits
While the training of existing seafarers is essential to the success of modern shipping operations, competition in the labour market means that the maritime industry should also do more to attract new personnel. “The reasons for becoming a seafarer are usually deep-rooted, but that’s not to say we as an industry don’t need to do anything,” explains Captain Szymanski. “On the contrary, I believe improving shipping’s image would go a long way towards attracting young people and alerting them to the opportunities available in shipping.”
Respect is the key to seafarer retention
Captain Szymanski adds that seafarers who are respected and provided with safe and pleasant working environments are more likely to show loyalty to their employers. “That’s why InterManager members focus on seafarer welfare and speak out on safety concerns,” he explains. “For example, we are currently working with the International Maritime Organization to improve safety in enclosed spaces and during lifeboat handling.”
In the first instalment in this two-part series, Jakob le Fevre, master mariner and Managing Partner at MARPRO, provided the recruiter’s perspective on human capital in shipping. Read the article here.
Join the discussion on human capital, and other key themes in the maritime sector, at Europort 2023 – 7-9 November.