This year’s chairman of CrewConnect Global, John Adams (Teekay Shipping Corporation), led the conversation on the newest developments in the marine HR community. With over 600 attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors, this year has been interesting for everyone.
“Everything that drives the success of our business comes through our people”, Adams commented on the importance of CrewConnect Global.
We have discussed the impact digitalisation has on seafarers’ crewing and education; marine HR researchers have presented their latest findings in what seafarers want; and industry leaders learnt more about what they can do to assure their seafarers security and progression within the industry.
“I have confidence that this conference will have a significant impact on turning our seafarers into the seafarers of the future”, said a representative from the Government of The Philippines.
“We need to take care of our resources”
The Philippines is one of the biggest suppliers of maritime manpower and based on what we heard from the representatives of the Government of The Philippines at CrewConnect Global and CruiseConnect Summit, they intend to expand further, and look to encourage more generations to join the maritime industry.
“The simple fact that our industry contributes 10% to the Philippines GDP… That’s such a fantastic statistic. It puts things in a very clear perspective to our importance”, Adams commented.
Alex Verchez, President and Managing Director of Teekay Shipping Philippines, said: “We need to take care of our resources.”
Could the industry improve further to ensure seafarer wellness?
Present at CrewConnect Global, Steven Cotton, Secretary General of the International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF), noted that seafarers’ welfare could mean several different things for everyone. It could mean that seafarers are not abandoned; it could mean that seafarers are given better health care; it could mean that seafarers are offered better connectivity.
For the ITF, it means improvement on the “quality of life” and Cotton, urged the industry to aim for equal treatment of seafarers whether they are on a cruise ship or a container ship.
However, inequality is present in several aspects of the industry, and industry leaders found a platform in CrewConnect Global to discuss these issues.
“Salaries don’t motivate but if you pay your staff unfairly, they demotivate”
Marine HR leaders and academic researchers have presented their results on this past year’s research and revealed how seafarers felt about several management styles and decisions.
The most significant finding they found is that seafarers are not motivated by salaries. But Phil Parry, Chairman and Co-Founder of Spinnaker Global, clarified: “Salaries don’t motivate but if you pay your staff unfairly, they demotivate.”
Parry quoted a 33% pay gap between superintendents in the UK and in Singapore, which makes it clear that shipowners need to manage payments carefully.
However, besides pay, marine HR professionals identified other motivating factors such as career progression prospects, the quality of education, healthy living, medical benefits, and more!
“Seafarers sell themselves short by not realising how much they could earn on shore”
Glenys Jackson OBE, Manager of the Merchant Navy Training Board, revealed that seafarers have significant misconceptions of shore-based roles and opportunities. One of the biggest knowledge gaps that the industry is failing to fill is to do with the education of seafarers on the transitional period that takes place when their career progresses from ship to shore.
Nick Chubb, Business Developer at Marine Society, shared his own experiences of the time he came to shore, and suggested that expectations of shore-based roles need to be managed better.
Mark Charman, CEO of Faststream Recruitment, considered these expectations. “Seafarers sell themselves short by not realising how much they could earn on shore”, he said.
Charman found that the majority of the interviewed seafarers’ notions were wrong about many things, including payment and availability.
Many of these misconceptions undersell shore-based roles, which reveals a gap in seafarer education despite the fact that career progression opportunities are vital in recruitment.
“The winners will be the ones with the best people”
Seafarer education has been at the centre of discussion at CrewConnect Global and as shipping is constantly disrupted by digital technologies, so is the way mariners are educated.
Kate Adamson, Futurist & CEO of Futurenautics, spoke of gamification as an innovative and more efficient way to train tomorrow’s seafarers. “The winners will be the ones with the best people”, Adamson said.
Based on the conversations at CrewConenct Global, the technology to make this a reality is already available. Yuzuru Goto, Managing Director of “K” Line Shipping, presented attendees with 3D simulation games, through which seafarers practice situations where they fail in order to learn how to avoid these accidents.
Adaptation to new technologies can be key to attracting more seafarers, and utilising innovative training techniques, like gamification, is one way to respect digital trends.
Alexander Avanth, Future Education Specialist and Expert in 21st Century Competences at DareDisrupt, warned that a lot of effort is needed to make a digitally competent business. However, there are also huge opportunities for exponential growth in the maritime industry, by interpreting already available data and utilising it to optimise operations.
The future of crewing and training
This year at CrewConnect Global, attendees learnt a lot about brand new and upcoming challenges and solutions to seafarer recruitment and training.
“I think the subject matter was good. I think that that reached out to people”, Adams said. “We were talking about innovative aspects of our business, new technology, and everything driving that. We were talking about not just management, but leadership and authentic leadership, and where we are addressing the right things. I think given that we have got senior level amongst the 500+ participants here, that’s the type of discussions that they want to be a part of. They want to engage with the stakeholders and subject matter experts who were here.”
What became clear after 2 days of conversations and presentations is that a promise of education cannot be underestimated in recruitment, and the value of continuous and innovative training can mean more than just better prepared seafarers.
The future of the maritime industry is changing rapidly – faster than many experts imagined – but to successfully adapt to change, the industry needs to be more aware of itself, and optimise its operations for its survival. Our speakers, however, urge shipping companies to aim to thrive, not just survive. And to do that, innovative thinking and digital technologies are necessary.
With more disruptions affecting the industries, it is vital to educate seafarers so they can keep up with the constant changes. This means that new skills need to be incorporated into a crew’s education, many of which will revolve around accommodating digitalisation.
We hope that CrewConnect Global was able to answer many of your questions on these changes, and that you were able to learn something new this year.
We’d hereby like to thank our incredible speakers and generous sponsors without whom CrewConnect Global could not have been as successful.