Upskill Today’s Maritime Workforce to Prepare for a Technological Future : Industry Report

Jointly organised by UBM (Seatrade) and the Singapore Maritime Foundation, Sea Asia 2019 will take place in Singapore from 9 –11 April 2019 at the Marina Bay Sands. 

SINGAPORE, January 14, 2019 :  With the shipping technological landscape changing how some areas of work in the maritime industry are carried out, it is imperative that the existing workforce is future-proofed and upskilled to ensure they can work well in an environment centred around technology.

That is the sentiment highlighted in the second Sea Asia industry insights report, ‘Technology in Maritime: Dehumanising the Industry or Creating New Job Opportunities?’ launched on Jan 10, ahead of the biennial Sea Asia conference and exhibition.

According to Esben Poulsson, Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping and Enesel Pte Ltd, and President of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), a key challenge facing the maritime industry today is that leaders need to ensure that existing staff are given the necessary training and upskilling needed to use new technologies comfortably in the industry.

“It is important that the maritime industry has the right people with the right skills to effectively harness new technologies. Initiatives like the Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF) by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) are key to making sure that the current workforce has the opportunities to further enhance and improve their skills.

Industry leaders need to also work with educational institutions to ensure that our next generation of workforce is equipped with the right skills and knowledge to propel the maritime industry forward in a technological world,” said Mr. Poulsson.

In assessing the impact of technology on jobs in the maritime industry and whether it is being dehumanised, the report also highlights that despite current jobs being redesigned and requiring new skills from employees, a human workforce is still essential.

Kenneth Chia, Executive Director of the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF), pointed out that while it seems that technological innovations are making some traditional roles in the industry redundant, this does not mean all workers will be replaced.   

“It is more evident that technology is altering traditional maritime jobs and changing the types of skills that are needed in the maritime industry, as opposed to it completely removing jobs for the current workforce.

“The instinctive knowledge of an experienced industry worker is hard to replace, even with advanced technology. For example, even though we may need a lesser number of crew members working on board a vessel with smart shipping technologies, a larger group of skilled employees is also needed to work onshore so as to remotely manage what is happening out at sea,” said Mr. Chia.

Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade UBM EMEA, highlighted that with automation and technology is set to play a key role in the maritime industry. As such, the risk of dehumanisation and need for future-proofing will be a topic for discussion at the upcoming Sea Asia 2019 conference which would be held in Singapore. 

“We need to have a good understanding of the new skills needed in the industry and more importantly, where talent with these skills can be found so that we can be well-placed to attract them to work for our changing industry,” said Mr. Hayman.

“With that in mind, we are looking forward to a robust discussion during the ‘Future of the Maritime Workforce’ conference session on the first day of the Sea Asia 2019 conference in April.”

About the Singapore Maritime Week 2019 (6 – 12 April 2019)

Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) is one of the world’s leading maritime shows and is organised annually and driven by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore(MPA). Every year, SMW gathers the international maritime community for a week of flagship conferences, dialogues, exhibitions and social events in celebration of all things maritime. The range of activities and events organised by MPA, industry stakeholders and research and educational institutions, as well as the cosmopolitan profile of participants, reflects the vibrancy and diversity of Singapore as a global hub port and leading international maritime centre.

About Singapore Maritime Foundation

Established in 2004, the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) is a private sector-led organisation that seeks to develop and promote Singapore as an International Maritime Centre (IMC). As the representative voice for the commercial players of the maritime industry, SMF seeks to forge strong partnerships with the public and private sectors of the maritime industry. SMF spearheads initiatives to promote the diverse clusters of the maritime industry in Singapore and at international frontiers, and to attract young talents to join the sector. SMF is directed by its Board of Directors which comprises prominent leaders in the Singapore maritime community.

Sea Asia 2019 is held in conjunction with the Singapore Maritime Week 2019 (SMW). SMW is the leading maritime event in Singapore driven by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. SMW gathers the international maritime community in Singapore for a week of conferences, dialogues, exhibitions and social events in celebration of all things maritime. These events reflect the vibrancy and diversity of Singapore as a major international maritime centre.

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