Tech-savvy seafarers command higher market value
Being able to navigate the systems and software onboard to operate the vessel safely is a valuable skillset
With digitalisation as the buzzword for the last couple of years, multi-fuel propulsion systems and integrated bridge systems are just two instances of complex tools and devices which require specialised knowledge to operate. A seafarer who has the technical know-how is a real asset to the vessel, more so when it concerns emergencies.
The dilemma of mastering new tricks
Careers at sea are demanding enough. Traditionalists take pride in their skills mastered over decades. Naturally, they would be reluctant to learn about maritime technology and incorporating programming into their portfolios. However, being able to maneuver technology and carry out technical operations is an ideal combination for today’s seafarers resumes.
For shipowners, it is increasingly essential to hire seamen with expertise and aptitude, accompanied with technical know-hows. It is a tricky place to be at; ensuring the crew is adequately trained to use the systems and equipment onboard.
Traditional seafarers have been using complex system for years and time perfected their standards. Hence, one can conclude it is neither the system nor the tool that disturb them, but the reliance on technology and the process of change – that can feel undermining.
It is worth nothing these old timers are well-versed with paper navigation charts. The entry of Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) was met with extreme resistance. Shipowners took the opportunity to educate on the advantage of ECDIS; eliminating the time consuming paperwork and the system enable easier real-time monitoring.
The same applies to cybersecurity. When seafarers understand how the knowledge can help defend the vessel against hackers, and address cybersecurity issues, they will be motivated to learn more. For seafarers, grasping technology know-hows will open a door of opportunities as shipowners would be heavily leveraging on data and business intelligence to improve their operations.
Maritime training will be of paramount importance to remain relevant in the industry, and complicate even further during post-pandemic recovery. By upskilling for the digital economy, seafarers can give themselves a chance to enjoy new ways of working.