The maritime industry is actually seeing a SEA change in the way it operates. Maritime industry has always been a very conservative industry taking lot of time to change and more so with technological advancements. However those will be a thing of the past as the maritime industry embraces a fast-track for improvement mode ,where the industry and its regulators are more open to technological advance than ever before.
Which are those areas where technology is fast catching up?
1) Cargo documentation-with new logistics processes and Electronic Bills of lading, the logistics part is fast adopting Block chain-for knowing block chain and how it’s being used in Maritime industry-ready my blog here
2) Vessel Inspections-Remote inspection are coming your way with really great technology advancement, I and robotics. With remote inspections, the quality of inspection is actually going to improve rather than deteriorate, thanks to the advanced technology being used like google street, smart helmets, drones etc.
3) Machinery spaces with advanced AI on equipment’s trouble shooting and maintenance
4) Use of Autonomous vessels for more and more purposes in the oceanographic data collection roles
The list is endless as new technology is being introduced in every new machinery produced and there is a clear and imminent case for seafarers to change to the new era of the maritime industry. The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the introduction of technology into the industry like never before.
With the technology changing and continuing to change rapidly hence forth, seafarers also have to
gear up .Now let’s talk about what will change with the way seafarers go about in their careers.
1) Induction: The requirements for training and the skill set required for future seafarers will be different in that, the basic marine technical knowledge will still be the core however other skills like man management, environmental protection and cyber security. The induction hence will be modified towards the changed requirements. This will be seen in the entrance exams for seafarers joining merchant navy, job selection interviews related to merchant navy. Apart from this the topics will be covered in pre sea courses to reinforce the importance and the modified job description of a seafarer.
2) Training: looking at the historical development of STCW shows that at its inception the main focus of the convention was on development of technical knowledge of seafarers. As the technology on board ship started to replace some of the technical aspect of the seafarers’ job with machine operation then the STCW amended to encompass new competencies needed on board ships. For Eg. GMDSS-equipment took over and others onboard where trained to use it.
In the new world of technological advancements, the number of people are surely going to start further reducing and hence the qualification of the people onboard will obviously will have to be higher. The new seafarer apart from the technical training will also need to undergo training in the new set of skills namely, soft skills.
3) Technical Skills: With the number of seafarers further dwindling the skill sets of each person would have to be considerably higher. The job description of seafarers would change from presently being operators to becoming monitoring operations of computers. The skills that would be in greater demand. Would include critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, technical literacy with emphasis on Information and communication technology (ICT) and environmental sustainability. Even with these skill sets the future seafarer would need some new knowledge and competencies which might include, technological awareness, computing and information skills, cyber security and environmental awareness
4) Soft Skills: Apart from the technical skills, there would be demand in the future for soft skills such as team work, leadership, communication and professional language, learning and self-development, and adaptability and flexibility. These are some skills that is expected to be part of the competency requirement of the future that is to come. Further to the above there would be other Soft skills like interpersonal and social skills, in addition to ethical behaviour and discipline which might also be part of the competency requirements.
5) Documentation-There are so many licenses, courses, endorsements, medical reports, joining papers etc, the seafarers have to carry along with their Passport and seaman book, this is in for a major revamp, with digitalization picking up, the seafarer will have a digital locker and all documents will be stored in that in his mobile phone. All these can be electronically sent to anyone who needs it. It will all be done on Block chains!
6) Looking for a shore job? No travel from office and more vessels per superintendent and much less manpower in office for recruiting .All Audits and inspections will be online with intelligent technology ,high power cameras ,drones and mapping functionalities.Recruting would mostly done by AI except the final step. As all the documents are digital, the data is available with computers and they will tell you if the seafarer is ready to travel to the ship document wise.
The above looks impossible? Far-fetched? wait for 10 years and this would be the reality. With the speed at which technology is moving lot of impossible things have become a reality in the recent past! We already have the technology for remote audits, blockchains are already in use and chat bots are everywhere.
As seafarers we need to up our game or be left out. Re-skill is the name of the game!!
Please do comment if you agree or disagree, or if you feel I have left have some points.
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