Maritime Companies Need New Learning Solutions

Maritime Freighter

Talk about deskless workers: The maritime industry must future-proof and upskill its workforce as the industry increases its reliance on technology. That means shipping companies of all sorts face growing pressure to train employees to keep pace.

That was the conclusion of Technology in Maritime: Dehumanising the Industry or Creating New Job Opportunities?, a report from Sea Asia, an international conference for the maritime and offshore industries.

Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping and president of the Singapore Shipping Association, told Hellenic Shipping News that improved learning programs are “a key challenge” facing the industry.

Learning companies that want to get a jump on opportunities can get in on the ground floor by helping maritime businesses develop their learning strategies. Click To Tweet

“It is important that the maritime industry has the right people with the right skills to effectively harness new technologies,” he said. In addition to trade groups, “industry leaders need to also work with educational institutions to ensure that our next generation of workforce is equipped with the right skills and knowledge to propel the maritime industry forward in a technological world.”

As in other industries, maritime executives see advancing technology as changing the nature of many jobs, but not eliminating them. “It is more evident that technology is altering traditional maritime jobs and changing the types of skills that are needed in the maritime industry, as opposed to it completely removing jobs for the current workforce,” said Kenneth Chia, executive director of the Singapore Maritime Foundation.

Learning Strategies Needed

Learning companies that want to get a jump on opportunities here may have a chance to get in on the ground floor by helping maritime businesses develop their educational strategies.

“We need to have a good understanding of the new skills needed in the industry and more importantly, where talent with these skills can be found so that we can be well-placed to attract them to work for our changing industry,” observed Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade UBM EMEA, one of Sea Asia’s organizers. He said the topic would be a focus of the event, which will be held in Singapore from April 9 – April 11.

Industry journals make clear that oceangoing vessels and the facilities that support them are gearing up to take full advantage of technology. The sector is in the midst of a digital transformation that will reshape the supply chain, according to the advisory firm ABI Research.

This is a big business, too. ABI reports that global maritime freight revenue will grow to $205 billion by 2023. Much of that growth will depend on disruptive technologies such as analytics, blockchain, automation and robotics, not to mention augmented and virtual reality. Maritime cybersecurity alone, ABI predicts, will be a $1.7 billion business in 2023.

“Along with consolidation and pressures on profits, long-standing players must adapt and work with partners within and outside the industry, from startups to technology leaders in connectivity, AI and more,” said ABI Principal Analyst Susan Beardslee.

Oceangoing HR

This is an industry that takes HR seriously. Like others, it’s feeling the impact of a tight labor market and a diminishing skilled workforce. “Organizations that are progressive in their approach to HR make this vital business lifeline fully integrated in the overall organization,” commented the website Maritime Executive.

“As the beating heart in any business, the HR department now takes a leading role in recruitment and hiring, training and professional development, performance reviews and assessments, workplace wellness, and even in the defining and disseminating of corporate culture.”

Maritime HR departments must recognize that, as in other industries, younger workers see technology “as the starting point” for engagement efforts, learning and employee communications.

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