Earlier this year, a survey from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) presented that internet access for seafarers for personal use on board ships is more widespread and available than previously imagined. In addition, the survey shows the positive benefits related with this access, which outweigh the feared safety concerns regarding the technology.
The responses to the survey conducted by ICS and ECSA, with support from the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA), indicate that internet access to seafarers for personal use may have improved the mental health and well-being of seafarers, as 60% of respondents said, as well as for the morale of seafarers in the company, according to 69% of respondents.
The survey showed that crew would leave their companies if the had a better offer. However, despite this workplace fluidity, the survey indicated that most of seafarers were happy to recommend their most recent company as an employer.
What is more, Danica Managing Director, Henrik Jensen, added that 80% of the seafarers who do not have internet access today would move jobs in order to get it.
This is a huge warning to those shipping companies who do not offer crew internet access onboard their vessels
What is more, the survey also found that:
• Close to 50% of the crew members responding have free access to the internet;
• 19% of the seafarers (mainly senior officers) get the costs for the renewal of their national licenses paid;
• 15% have medical insurance as a part of their remuneration package;
• Most seafarers (55%) have worked for two or more companies over the past three years;
• However, 45% have had only one employer in the past three years;
• 73% of them would recommend a friend to join the company they last worked for;
• 74% would change jobs for a higher salary;
• Joining a younger vessel and having a shorter contract period are equally important (47% - 45%);
• 32% would change jobs to get access to the internet;
• Medical insurance and pension are also important parameters.
In addition, despite the fact that 55% of Danica’s database of seafarers has not encountered serious workplace concerns, poor treatment still exists and, with the survey reporting that:
• 15% experienced they were not paid on time;
• 14% faced violation of rest hours rules;
• 12% felt they had stress;
• 11% were not relieved on time;
• 9% faced shortage of food or drinking water;
• 5% had to pay a commission to get employment;
• 5% worked under unsafe conditions.
Finally, another important aspect for seafarers and the industry in general, is training, both at sea and on shore. Such training is largely welcomed by seafarers, with the survey presenting that:
• 52% of the seafarers received training provided by their company when they were at home;
• 55% of seafarers have attended a company seminar ;
• 59% of the seafarers who received training found it very or extremely useful.
Last year, a similar report by Futurenautics Maritime, found that:
- 92% said that Internet access strongly affects their decision on where to work;
- 95% consider connectivity as a positive effect on onboard safety;
- 69% reported that the increased use of big data and analytics, can positively affect their jobs in the future. 17% said that the see new technologies as a threat.
Moreover, the Mission to Seafarers in support of the Shipowners Club launched its Q3 2019 "Seafarers Happiness Index" highlighting that there has been an improvement of seafarers' wellness onboard vessels, presenting an increasing to 6.59/10 from the previous 6.27, marking a promising and better future in respect of the seafarers and their life onboard.
On the other hand, a research conducted by Cardiff University, mentions that long working hours, isolation and extended periods away from home, put seafarers at risk of poor mental health.