DNV has published a study co-sponsored by the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF), examining the key drivers propelling the transformation of the maritime industry and assesses their impact on ship management and seafarers leading up to 2030.
he findings were obtained through a combination of literature review, expert consultations, and a survey of more than 500 seafarers collectively responsible for operating dry bulk, tanker, and container vessels globally. Some 70% of the seafarers who responded to the survey had been in the industry for over 11 years. Approximately two-third of the respondents held the rank of officers.
According to DNV, to effectively prepare the maritime industry workforce for the challenges of decarbonization and digitalization, several key findings have emerged:
Training in new fuels and technology
- The survey results broadly expressed such needs across the ranks.
- Over 75% of seafarers (Deck and Engine Officers 78%) indicated they would require partial or complete training on fuels such as LNG, batteries, or synthetic fuel.
- Almost 87% of respondents (Deck and Engine Officers 91%) indicated a need for partial or complete training on emerging fuels such as ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.
- 81% of respondents (Deck and Engine Officers 85%) indicated that they require either partial or complete training in dealing with advanced digital technologies (such as further automation of equipment/systems, advanced sensors, artificial intelligence, and remote operations). Only 13% (Deck and Engine Officers 11%) agreed they were well trained.
- 52% of seafarers (Deck and Engine Officers 53%) indicated a strong preference for in-person training at a maritime training centre or academy, with 23% (Deck and Engine Officers 27%) that prefer a blend of in-person and online training.
- Almost 70% of respondents (Deck and Engine Officers 74%) have used simulators, virtual reality or other digital environments when undertaking training, of which 60% (Deck and Engine Officers 65%) indicated such training methods helped develop their skills. Only 10% (Deck and Engine Officers 9%) disagreed.
Embracing new technology
- Two-thirds of seafaring officers said more advanced technology onboard would make their job easier, which fits well with the thriving maritime innovation
ecosystem and increasing venture capital funding, particularly in Singapore.
- However, only 40% of seafaring officers think shore based control centres, used to operate some or all functions remotely, would make their onboard job easier.
Sustainability and technology as talent recruitment and retention tools
- 55% of respondents (Deck and Engineering Officers 50%) indicated that new developments in fuels, automation and digitalization onboard ships could retain existing seafarers and attract new seafarers.
Building upon the key findings, the study presents several recommendations to enhance seafarer training and development, and improve attraction and retention. The recommendations include the following:
A collective responsibility to prepare seagoing professionals for the future
- Key stakeholders such as regulatory bodies, shipowners/ operators/managers and training academies should carefully assess and target skill deficits in digitalization and decarbonization in the current decade to ensure seafarers are ready for the future. Training could be prioritized on LNG and batteries, as they are expected to become the most commonly used alternative options in the current decade. Recently, the number of vessels with LNG and battery or battery-hybrid has significantly increased, making it critical to focus on these fuel types.
- The industry should adopt the future seafarer training model whereby maritime training academies focus on providing basic/generalized shipboard skills, while ship operators should focus on delivering fuel-specific and vessel-specific training. Leverage modern training methods to address augmented
training and development
- The industry can fill the skills deficit and enhance sea farer development in the current decade using new training methods. While not all trainings may be suitable for a single medium, the industry should aim to effectively use a range of training options to improve accessibility, speed and depth of content. This may involve a blend of digital and in-person training components to optimize available resources and ensure seafarers have access to the best training. Additionally, technologies such as VR/AR can further enhance seafarer training.
- Shipowners/operators/managers and training academies should prioritize training the most suitable seafarers based on their position onboard, experience and availability. For example, senior officers should be trained on new technologies and fuels to provide effective mentoring and on-the-job training, followed by junior crew members whose onboard training can be supplemented with technology-assisted training such as virtual reality and simulators.
- Future STCW courses could introduce updated fire-fighting techniques and methods into the curriculum to combat the new types of fires posed by
- Maritime training organizations and employers of seafarers should renew their focus on developing seafarers’ soft skills. Providing a pathway for sustainable career progression for seagoing professionals, vital for talent attraction and retention.
- Shipowners/operators/managers should closely manage seafarers’ progression opportunities, considering operational capability and attraction-retention
strategies. The career development opportunities that digitalization and decarbonization present should be leveraged to retain and attract people to a seafaring job.
- Shipowners/operators/managers should explore opportunities for seafarers to take on complementary shore-based roles, such as vessel control and monitoring facilities (shore control centres), which will likely become more prevalent later in the current decade.
Overall, this study provides a detailed discussion on the future of seafarers, including the challenges, impact, and training needed.
The work that we do this decade is important and complements the efforts of the shipping community to meet the net-zero target in 2050. It is essential that we begin by understanding where the competency gaps are, areas of training most needed, and then work as an industry to equip sea-going professionals with the transition and future skills needed to safely and effectively operate the new-fuelled types of ships that are coming into service.
..said Chairman of SMF, Mr. Hor Weng Yew.