Action Plan Launched to Upskill Global Seafaring Workforce

Action Plan Launched to Upskill Global Seafaring Workforce

UN organizations, shipowners, and unions unveiled a new Action Plan at COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to meet the shipping industry's decarbonization goals. The 10-point action plan outlines recommendations for seafarer skill enhancement.

The initiative is in reaction to new study findings, the modeling of which warns that up to 800,000 seafarers may need additional training by the middle of the 2030s.

The Maritime Just Transition Task Force Secretariat commissioned the research carried out by the maritime consulting firm DNV.

CEO of leading maritime consultancy DNV Maritime, Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, said: ​​”Decarbonization is bringing new opportunities, new technologies but also new risks. Our first priority must be to achieve safe decarbonization. We must take a collaborative approach to safeguard our people, our ships and our environment. This report points to the challenges and the tangible actions the industry can take to support and protect its workforce. DNV is pleased to see the action plan led by the Task Force and recognize the challenge moving forward to train seafarers on alternative fuel technologies.”

container ship

The Maritime Just Transition Task Force was established to ensure seafarers and communities are at the center of the shipping industry's response to the climate emergency.

Alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels and technologies must replace conventional fuels in shipping to achieve global emission reduction targets.

Shipping, which currently contributes 3% of global emissions, must switch from conventional fuels to alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels and technologies to fulfill the international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C or less by 2050.

In a statement, Sanda Ojiambo, the Assistant Secretary-General and CEO of the UN Global Compact, said: "Climate action focused on people, and job creation must be at the core of a Just Transition to Net Zero. This new paper highlights that aligning with a 1.5 C trajectory requires action now to support the upskilling of the maritime workforce as the shipping industry moves to rapidly cut its greenhouse gas emissions."

"The action plan represents a global first—it marks the first business sector uniting in a tripartite framework—shipowners, seafarers' unions, and UN organizations—to discuss how to secure a Just Transition together," Ojiambo explained.

The three emission reduction scenarios evaluated in the research highlight the urgent need to begin putting the training infrastructure in place to ensure that hundreds of thousands of the world's nearly two million seafarers are upskilled and empowered through the transition.

Findings also suggest that, as the international maritime community works toward a more straightforward decarbonization pathway in a post-fossil fuel era, a lack of certainty regarding alternative fuel options impacts seafarer training.

The Action Plan presents suggestions for businesses, governments, seafarer unions, training providers, and academia in response to the training difficulty that the modeling reveals.

These suggestions include enhancing international training standards, ensuring health and safety come first, and forming advisory national maritime skills councils.