A new report titled “A Fair Future for Seafarers?” was produced by Thetius and commissioned by Inmarsat to explore the changing role of seafarers over the coming three decades and reconcile those changes with the role the welfare sector plays in supporting them.
report, improvements in 3D printing, a changing climate, and a rapidly growing population in Africa, mean that trade routes will likely look very different in 2050.ccording to the
Whether they are operating by crew on board or from a shore control station, ships will be going to very different places
These changes could create a wide range of issues for the seafarers of tomorrow including human issues like isolation and loneliness, task issues such as skill fade and mental underload, equipment issues such as a lack of standardisation, safety issues such as extreme weather events, and legal issues such as abandonment.
What is more, it is possible that ships in 2050 will be sailing with high levels of automation and the role of individual seafarers will have changed significantly. Though 2050 appears to be a long way off, the scrap and build rates of ships mean that many seafarers in 2050 will be sailing on ships that were built in 2030, “just nine years away.”
Furthermore, the report notes that many of the technological shifts in other industries over the last two decades will be realised in the maritime industry in this time. This includes levels of automation following a similar pattern to aviation. The number of people involved in operating a ship will likely reduce and the role of officers will move to monitoring an automated operation.
Though 2050 appears to be a long way off, the scrap and build rates of ships mean that many seafarers in 2050 will be sailing on ships that were built in 2030, just nine years away
In for shipping to adapt to these changes, it must transform its approach to training and welfare. This includes an increased emphasis on professional development to enable individuals to keep pace with changing technology. Soft skills will also become increasingly important as crews get smaller. But a raft of new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality are making high quality training cheaper and easier to access.
Additionally, welfare services will not be immune from the changes outlined in the report. In fact, it is likely to see two populations of seafarers emerge, including a relatively small number of highly paid specialist professionals and a larger number of low paid workers conducting maintenance operations. Combined with shorter port stays and less access to and from vessels, protecting the vulnerable and delivering welfare services will require a change in the current delivery model.
Based on the changes required, the authors recommend that a global seafarer advocacy organisation is established to support individual seafarers and lobby for improved funding and welfare standards.
Further, it is recommended that a strategic review of local seafarer services is conducted to ensure frontline resources are used as effectively as possibly. Lastly, a change in the delivery model to focus more on digital services and community engagement ashore is also recommended.
Combined with shorter port stays and less access to and from vessels, protecting the vulnerable and delivering welfare services will require a change in the current delivery model
the report concludes.