Shipping is an interesting and highly competitive -even if not sufficiently communicated- labor market. While shipping labor research typically focuses on seagoing personnel, shipping provides magnificent career opportunities for office employees. Either onboard or ashore, are there any specific qualifications that predispose a “good applicant” in order to cope with the challenges that may come and excel at the job? This was among the key issues of discussion during the latest CAREER4SEA Forum, in December.
What are the main trends in the transitional era of shipping that shape “the perfect applicant”?
A key trend shaping shipping employment at the moment s that the industry is moving away from the conservative approach of wanting “a 10-year experience at the age of 25”, said Mr. Simon Frank, Chief Human Resources Officer, Thome Group. On their part, new candidates generally seem up to date with what is happening in terms of technological advancements, they are more aware with what they would like to do and what direction they want in their career, experts agreed during the event.
Meanwhile, soft skills seem to be of higher and higher importance as the industry is moving forward, panelists stressed, even though the industry is still focusing on certificates and degrees. In comparison to hard skills’, soft skills are more challenging to develop, since they have little to do with knowledge or expertise. In this landscape, soft skills education starts from top-management, with seminars and virtual training being a useful asset.
“Soft skills are here because technology cannot replace soft skills. There are soft skills that are needed, such as teamwork, problem-solving, …explained Mrs. Areti Mystiroudi, HR Business Partner, MarineTraffic.
“People have changed. It is a different generation, so we need to deal with them accordingly, and move with the time. And this is why soft skills are extremely important to deal with people nowadays, …added Capt. Bikramjit Sandhu, Crewing Recruitment Manager, Euronav.
What are the main features that make a perfect applicant?
Maybe some years ago, a university degree was enough for acquiring a job in shipping, but current discussions focus significantly on soft skills, noted Capt. Ioannis Besis, HSQE & Vetting Manager, Eletson Corporation, citing some of the main trends that are required nowadays:
- Ability to work beyond normal working hours
- Attitude to deal with challenge and change
- Passion to improve and learn new things
- Ability to overcome problems
- Good communication skills
- Ability to manage stress
When it comes to qualifications, all candidates are qualified. But where they can stand out is that they need to be focused, goal-oriented and have something in mind on where they are heading.
…noted Capt. Sandhu.
How has technology affected the way we conduct training especially in COVID era?
In the meantime, a main trend shaping the current landscape is remote training, with COVID-19 having of course created new conditions for the learning process. Spending 8 hours in front of a screen in order to learn is not an easy task neither for a seafarer nor a student and the world is still uncertain when the pandemic will be over. Digitalization is transforming every aspect of everyday business and traditional teaching will likely be transformed in the near future.
Remote training is more effective, costless, less time-consuming, as it enables connection of several people in different parts of the world -requiring only a device and Internet connection- and many companies and employees prefer it compared to traditional classroom teaching, the experts argued.
By having these innovative platforms, institutions and training companies are also entering the mindset to have the training in different languages, giving the opportunity to more people to be trained.
…said Mrs. Mystiroudi, while another advantage of e-learning and remote raining, added Capt. Besis, is uniformity, with these advancements assuring that the same training is delivered to everyone.
Why should anyone consider shipping as a career?
The maritime industry transitions and transforms, so there are many opportunities for anyone entering, the experts highlighted.
“It’s just a great place to be. It’s challenging, it’s exciting, it’s not the same thing every day. We have problems that arise, solutions found and problems rising again. So it’s a very interesting life,…explained Capt. Sandhu.
“Shipping is exciting. It’s a non-routine at all career path. So, if you love adventure, go for it. It’s rewarding in every level, and you will not regret it,…said Mrs. Vicky Apostolopoulou, Business Development Executive, School of Maritime Studies, Metropolitan College.
“It’s an industry with many challenges, fast development, a very interesting life. Of course, you have to learn to work under pressure, working with different nationalities and manage other people. But if you are passionate with your job, you can succeed, …added Capt. Christos Gianneios, Crew Manager, Niovis Shipping Co. S.A.
What is a key advice of anyone wanting to pursue a career in shipping?
Succeeding in a job interview is not always easy. Sometimes candidates during job interviews have been observed trying to tell the HR interviewers what they think the latters want to hear.
“My advice is “be yourself” and try in every interview opportunity to express yourself and show who you really are because we also want to understand if people match our culture and the role and the team,”…advised Mrs. Mystiroudi.
“My advice is to learn how to love learning. Learning is an ongoing process, it never ends, even more in an industry like shipping which is constantly changing and not standing at all,…said Apostolopoulou.
“Working under pressure is very important because our environment is stressful, both onboard and ashore. Invest on yourself, improve your knowledge gap, learn new things and always try to develop yourself,…concluded Capt. Besis.
You may view the 2021 CAREER4SEA Virtual Forum herebelow