While the voting procedure for the 2019 SAFETY4SEA Awards is open, Mrs. Joanna-Eugenia Bakouni, Training Supervisor of Epsilon Group, explains how Veritas Training Center – which has been shortlisted for the Training Award – has invested in improving the training of seafarers, calling for a change in the approach of existing training institutions. As she explained, these need to focus on improving performance and productivity by embracing e-learning and virtual reality (VR) training.
SAFETY4SEA: Your organization has been shortlisted for the 2019 SAFETY4SEA Awards in the ‘Training’ category alongside a number of other distinguished nominees. What would you like to share with industry’s stakeholders with respect to this development?
Joanna- Eugenia Bakouni: First of all, we feel honored to have been shortlisted for the 2019 SAFETY4SEA Training Award. This nomination is a recognition of our dedication and commitment in providing training solutions that meet the highest quality standards. Epsilon Group has long been established as the partner of choice in crew management and manning of the most prominent, traditional shipping companies. Through our involvement, training has become an integral part of our crewing business, as we believe that training is a key success factor for any company operating in such a dynamic and demanding environment. This is the reason behind our latest investment in electronically controlled, camshaftless engine training, seeing that technological advances, digitalization and automation are rapidly disrupting the maritime industry.
S4S: What are the key challenges surrounding the training of seafarers today?
J.B.: The skillset needed by modern seafarers is by far unprecedented, as we are experiencing the impact of disruptive technologies, ever-demanding regulatory requirements and a shortage in the supply of competent and qualified seafarers. The later imposes a far greater demand to “produce” seafarers with a more comprehensive approach towards industry standards and a more universal mindset, as we move to less traditional markets for the supply of seafarers. In any case, when we are talking about these challenges, we are also acknowledging the opportunities that arise in the field of maritime training. As a result, we anticipate that training will play a pivotal role in ensuring that seafarers of today will be able to keep up with the needs of tomorrow.
S4S: In what way do you believe training needs to be developed in order to keep up with industry’s dynamic environment?
J.B.: Training institutions need to challenge the status-quo of maritime learning and development industry. Training is no longer just a requirement that needs to be “ticked” prior signing-on; it should be treated as a means to improve performance, productivity and satisfaction and to make operations safer. In parallel, we notice a shift towards more individual solutions, focusing on the areas for improvement of each seafarer.
For these reasons, we need to embrace e-learning and virtual reality (VR) training, as they provide more interactive training settings that can be launched anywhere and anytime. Of course we need to be realistic; we cannot expect traditional classroom training to become superseded. What we can expect, though, is an increased usage of blended-learning. Additionally, training needs to make better use of data analytics tools.
At Veritas, we understand that as the maritime profession becomes increasingly complex, the need for real-life, experience-based training becomes critical. This is why we promote simulation training, that mirrors actual onboard conditions and we fully embrace the capabilities provided by modern technology.
S4S: How training in shipping could be developed to meet the needs of Generation Z?
J.B.: We have to understand that Gen Z are digital natives, used to real-time data and connectivity and opt for personalized context. Having that in mind, traditional lecture-based training approaches cannot be considered attractive nor can they nurture talent. Training can be used as a means of promoting a more positive image of the industry to Gen Z, but in order to do so maritime training should embrace the current technology trends by offering more flexible solutions, adopting virtual environments and promoting the technical skills needed to face the world of tomorrow.
S4S: What is your key message to the industry stakeholders with respect to the future of maritime training?
J.B.: We are at historical crossroads and now, more than ever, we need to change the way we perceive training in the maritime industry. Training is not a mere mandatory expense to fill in regulatory requirements; it is rather an investment that helps us maximize the potential of our human capital. Maritime training also needs to change in light of accelerated technological advances. The seafarer of tomorrow will need more sophisticated technical knowledge to cope with automation onboard, while also honing a wide array of soft-skills, like leadership and intercultural communication.
You may cast your vote for Veritas Training Center (Member of Epsilon Group) at 2019 SAFETY4SEA Awards dedicated webpage till 6th of September 2019!
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.