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Cognitive, digital and soft skills will be sought after in seafarers

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The maritime workforce of the future will require expanded skillsets in order to ensure safe and efficient operations.

Ahead of the debut Global Maritime Club Summit, Seatrade Maritime News spoke to panellists for their views on how the industry must prepare crews for the industry of the future.

Top of the speakers’ lists was digitalisation, and the new demands that will place on crews.

“Systems on board will be more complex and regulations more stringent, therefore the role of more than standard training is crucial to ensure safe operations. More digital skillsets are needed. Virtual learning and tools including VR will be even more crucial elements,” said Peter Schellenberger, Vice President Supply Chain, Thome Group.

“We have the firm believe that seafarers, if given the right and real-world tools can contribute more to good and efficient ship operation and they will be a crucial part of integrated ship/shore planning and almost all standard operations so that the vessel managers are able to concentrate on safety, efficiency, predictive maintenance, and large planned events such as Dry Docks and emergency cases,” said Schellenberger.

Dr Konstantinos Poulis, General Manager, Epsilon Hellas, agreed that changes were coming for the seafaring profession.

“The cognitive flexibility to promptly and accurately embrace and deploy what's coming in technology realms will distinguish advanced from less advanced seafarers. I tend to use a fitting term from the management literature to describe what this means i.e., the skill/quality of one's absorptive capacity, or else, her/his ability to meaningfully transform learning opportunities related to novel tendencies and innovations into practical wisdom,” said Poulis.

Representing those with the task of meeting upcoming training needs, Valentinos Steliou, Innovation Director at Mintra said: “Automation, artificial intelligence, and the great data exchange will determine future roles but also change the requirements of positions which traditionally only required practical skills. Seafarers will be required to demonstrate strong soft skills as well as cognitive capabilities. Practical and technical skills will no longer suffice and those who fail to evolve and develop will be left behind. It is vital for the industry to invest in robust, high-quality training to ensure the next generation of seafarers meet this challenge.

“Seafarers need to be upskilled to adapt to the new landscape and be able to access this training even when at locations with poor network connectivity or with travel restrictions. This is where eLearning providers play a huge role,” said Steliou.

Schellenberger said that cyber security training is also of paramount importance as seafarers bring more and more digital devices onboard, and some 70% of cyber security incidents originate with crew.

“Across the board, regardless of the job role or responsibility and irrespective the changes which a specific position is undergoing, resilience and adaptability will become seafarers’ most valued skills. They will be as sought after as any technical or non-technical qualifications or practical abilities,” added Steliou.


The Global Maritime Club Summit – in association with Seatrade Maritime – will be held on Thursday, 9th June in the Posidonia Conference Hall as part of the Posidonia International Shipping Exhibition Conferences & Seminars programme.

The one-day Summit and is free to attend on a first-come, first-registered basis.