Dimiris Fokas, Training Manager, Angelicoussis Shipping Group gave a presentation on the”Challenges on Human Element development” at the 2015 SAFETY4SEA Athens Forum.He noticed that the challenges in the human element development and training are increasing as well as training needs due to the new regulations, standards and technical developments. However a balance between basic skills, seamanship, soft skills and new requirements should be maintained. He explained the available methods for the appraisal and evaluation of personnel which should be used together with training tools including simulator, distance learning, CBTs, classroom etc. He concluded that there is a need to find a fair and objective balance between all above per individual, with the aim to inspire and involve everyone actively in a successful career development
Lets assume that you are a seafarer and that your six months contract comes to an end and you are ready to go home. What would you have in your mind? Career development or holidays? The seafarer comes to the office for the debriefing process where there is a face to face discussion, going through companys policies and seafarers training needs, development and coaching. Also, the specific seminars and the workshops that the seafarer will attend based on the phase of his career development are discussed and the importance of maritime education and training is highlighted.
The first challenge is to keep a balance between the leave periods of the seafarer and the training needs. We all need to understand, respect and appreciate the fact that training ashore is done during the leave periods of the seafarer.
Similarly, the second challenge is the balance in the identification of training needs per individual, not group. We need to combine the technical skills with soft skills, communications, with new requirements and be company specific. You might be the best master in the world, but you are not aware of the use of ECDIS. Or the best engineer who cannot communicate with anybody else onboard. So, we need to combine and develop all those skills. In order to develop a training course, we need training facilities and a management system for the approval and certification, which the majority of training centers have. For the delivery of the course, we need an instructor and training material, which will ensure the high quality of the training.
The third challenge is the selection of the instructors and their qualifications. We need an experienced professional who is able to develop training material. We need someone, who can inspire the trainees on top of being a good professional. And, the more technical the subject, the less available candidates you can find.
Additionally, the balance in use of training methods and tools is the fourth challenge. We start with the traditional classroom, distance learning, simulator, CBT, exams, on the job training, shore assignment, etc. You can use the simple and cheap solution, which is CBTs or develop a training program with the use of all the training tools and methods. This might be expensive, but it pays back.
Challenge five is on IT. You need integrated training records to combine all the training provided. We need records that are accessible from everywhere included the ship. And we also need to combine these records with appraisals, test results etc. Such a combined system does not exist outside in the market. It is a challenge to build it.
The appraisal is the challenge number six. Sometimes, appraisal is misunderstood. Instead of being an opportunity for improvement, some people consider it as a criticism to their work. It is ok to be average. Then, you can identify the areas that you can improve and be trained. Therefore, we need a fair and objective appraisal system that works. Moreover, we need to encourage the identification of training needs. We need to reward efforts and involve people. And show to people that the appraisals and career development can help for careers onboard and ashore as well.
Likewise, the measure of the effectiveness of training consists the seventh challenge that we have to deal. Accidents such as Costa Concordia, the incident of collision in Singapore and another collision concerning two container vessels fully manned with pilots in Suez Canal in excellent weather conditions did occur, although all those people were all trained and certified, as required. How can we measure the effectiveness of training? The easy way is through KPIs, based on incidents, PSC detentions, casualties, oil spills, audits results, appraisal, benchmarking etc. this is a system. We all use such a system. But, this is not the real challenge. The real challenge is how to understand and improve the performance of an individual as member of a team onboard and how to measure it. This is very difficult, because we expect a lot from our seafarers and I am not sure that we can support them ashore enough on that issue. I dont have an answer to that challenge, we are working on that. This is very complicated, because you have to use a good appraisal system and all the training tools and methods that we mentioned before.
If I had to put all these challenges in one, then I call it THE challenge. Everyone can learn, this is a fact. And, also, it is difficult to change old habits. Again this is a fact. So, how can we involve, inspire, encourage each individual? How can we achieve that and at the same time, make this process enjoyable to instructors and trainees? The answer is that we must never forget the human side, the human nature and basic training principles.
Above article is an edited version of Mr. Fokas presentation during the 2015 SAFETY4SEA Forum which successfullyconcluded on Wednesday 7thof October 2015in Eugenides Foundation Athens attracting1100 delegates from 30 countries representing a total of 480 organizations.
Click here to view his presentation video
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