Is the maritime industry as a whole adaptable? The dictionary defines adaptability as “The quality of being able to adjust to new conditions.” And in this constantly changing climate, this is a crucial trait for the shipping industry to possess.
Technology is changing the future by infiltrating almost every facet of our typically traditional sector but for those companies in the maritime industry who are prone to burying their heads in the sand, it’s time to shape up or ship out.
Why the maritime industry needs to be more adaptable
Future technologies in the shipping industry are impacting upon everything from the way seafarers are recruited to the way security and maintenance is managed on vessels.
In fact, a survey conducted by UK law firm Clyde & Co found that the majority of shipowners believe automation will affect their business and have already begun to implement relevant initiatives.
A lot has already been written about autonomous ships, in particular with regards to the laying off of seafarers, however the very process of automation and its subsequent management and maintenance will create maritime jobs - albeit different ones.
Regardless, the world is changing - and shipowners need to take notice.
Staying on top of changes in the maritime industry
So how do shipping companies handle all these changes? After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we were sending faxes and filing documents in ring binders. Now future technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and blockchain are the new buzzwords on everyone’s lips!
Shipping companies are going to need to hire new, more technically adept seafarers if they are to have a chance of not just surviving, but thriving, in this changing landscape.
So how do we, as an industry attract digital talent if we are to start changing the future of our success?
For a start shipowners and managers should be thinking about re-training existing land-based employees to enable them to remain relevant in the workplace.
Secondly, outdated attitudes need to change and a greater reliance on software and automated systems should be actively encouraged by the leaders of organizations.
We’re not talking about self driving ships - we’re talking about every day systems and procedures that can make life easier for both seafarers and shore based staff. Things like online crew management systems and applicant tracking systems for seafarers who apply for jobs at sea online.
Are there new opportunities for women in shipping?
There’s a notable lack of women working in maritime jobs in the industry. Trace this back to inadequate promotion at an educational level, absence of support from families, or the perception that jobs at sea are ‘not for women’.
But shore based jobs in the shipping industry are different: this rise in tech-based roles is a very real opportunity for females to find careers in shipping, without suffering the lack of support, the misconceptions, or the worries that typically come with the idea of going to work on a vessel and being away for months at a time.
Of course, there are potential employees of all genders who may simply prefer not to go to sea, but who still want to work in the maritime industry or even transition from the sea to maritime jobs based ashore.
In addition, the fact that women are only just starting to work in STEM and with future technologies is another issue, but it’s one that shipping companies can take steps to address if they truly want to adapt.
How can shipping companies attract younger generations?
There appears to be a chasm between older or more senior workers in the shipping industry and their younger counterparts. The starkest example of this is that when it comes to work priorities, the former are far more likely to rate work-life balance at the bottom of the list whilst the latter put it at the top.
Although it may not be typical of working on a vessel, the fact is, a considerable number of people work differently these days: remotely and with flexible hours.
Of course no one is suggesting you can work remotely on a ship, but the point is, the more traditional members of staff in shipping companies need to realize that the working environment has changed.
Like it or not, managers must adapt if they are to attract younger employees, particularly when it comes to shore based jobs in shipping.
Martide are changing the future of maritime recruitment
If you’re worried that your shipping company might be stuck in a rut and in need of modernization, talk to Martide.