Sell a career in maritime, not ports

Merchant Navy Training Board Kathryn Neilson, director of the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), said that attracting young people into shipping is a key challenge today. Credit: MNTB

Ports and shipping need to collaborate better to ‘sell’ a career in maritime to an increasingly-disinterested employment pool.

Seafarers must see a clear career path onshore when they choose to make the move from ship to shore, or they will be lost to other industries.

Speaking at the UK Ports Conference, Kathryn Neilson, director of the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), said that attracting young people into shipping is a key challenge today.

She noted that the industry needs to ensure that the skills taught at sea are transferable to careers onshore.

“It’s a career in maritime, not a career at sea,” she said.

Colin Bassam, manager of Port Training Services, said that the industry also needs to address its aging workforce: “One of the challenges is awareness. If you try to sell a dockworking career to a young person you are going to struggle. We are the ones who have to lead that as a sector.”

Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the British Ports Association, agreed, adding that “the shipping industry has to be seen as more proactive in promoting jobs”.

The shortage of new recruits stepping up to a career in shipping has been mirrored elsewhere in the transportation sector.

Alex Veitch, head of global policy for the Freight Transport Association, said that the logistics industry as a whole is seeing a skills challenge.

“On the inland side, we do see a big problem with driver shortages.

“We have to work as a sector to address these things.”

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