Technical skills or in other words hard skills aren’t necessarily hard to acquire. They can be easily taught, and can be learned and improved over time. But non-technical skills known as “soft skills,” such as teamwork, effective communication, leadership, time management, and flexibility are highly valued in the modern workplace. In comparison to hard skills’, soft skills are more challenging to develop, since they have little to do with knowledge or expertise. According to a report issued by Deloitte in 2017, in the following 10 years, 2/3 of all the jobs would be soft-skills intensive. And shipping makes no exception.
As shipping companies rapidly changing, with the aim to attract young talent and be in line with the modern-day environment, there is an urgent need for soft skills’ development.
In order to add value to its business, shipping should adopt new training methods and techniques on how to improve those abilities. In fact, assessing and developing soft skills by training their crews is a good start, which will bring high production performance.
“I do encourage our industry to focus more on soft skills, soft skills such as situational awareness, decision-making, communication, teamwork, leadership, personal resource, managing stress, and coping with fatigue”, said Capt. Albert E. Bartilad during the first SAFETY4SEA Forum in Manila.
With human connection being a vital key for great teamwork, shipowners and operators are required to invest more on critical personal skills, by hiring open-minded people with creative ideas, social confidence and good interaction skills.
Dr. Luiza Shahbazyan, Product Manager CAT, SAFEBRIDGE, during the 2018 SAFETY4SEA Cyprus Forum, discussed about the future crewing requirements and explained the reasons why soft skills are increasingly important onboard than ever before:
There is a stable trend over the last years showing that most of the accidents at sea are triggered by non-technical causes such as lack of assertiveness, decision-making or dependability.
Meaning that when performing under a difficult and stressful situation, it doesn’t only matter how many technical abilities someone may have, since problem solving and personal skills will take them a step forward at any level, in every job field.
Within the years, digitalization, automation and artificial intelligence have entered dynamically into the shipping business, while are expected to further increase. As a result, candidates with creative and critical thinking abilities are needed to accompany the capabilities of those new technologies.
“The increasing demands in regulation and technology makes soft skills really imperative to carrying out the work of seafarers as it is today” Shipping Deputy Minister Ms Natasa Pilides shared during her opening speech at SafeMetrix Conference.
But, what are the soft skills in practice?
One thing is for certain, soft skills are not easily learned and demand people to:
- Be a good listener
- Have a strong work ethic
- Critical thinking
- Be creative
- Have a team spirit
- Make decisions
- Be flexible
- Communicate effectively
Overall, until now softs skills where undervalued from several industries. But in efforts to transform business, soft skills have started to earn space, while are expected to define the future of work.