The working conditions created ashore by Covid-19 could serve as a springboard to making shipping a more attractive career opportunity, a virtual forum featuring 15 young shipping organisations was told on Friday.
The Global Young Shipping Forum was organised by Greece’s Young Executives Shipping (YES) Forum and featured speakers from four continents.
Birgit Liodden, the founder of YoungShip International, told the Zoom-convened conference: “Covid is an opportunity for the industry and for parents to combine work with family. This is also for our industry and our generation – we don’t have to follow the rules and structures of previous generations. We can sit down and recreate the game.”
Speaking from Oslo, Liodden urged today’s younger generation in shipping to sit down and think how they would like companies and the industry to function as employers.
“Then we can create those mechanisms and we can empower and inspire and be the foundation for an industry that is thriving, that is a good industry for young people,” Liodden said.
How shipping emerges as an industry post-coronavirus forms the bedrock of the next issue of Maritime CEO magazine, due out next week.
Eli Ginsberg from the Young Shipping Professionals of New York organisation said shipping remained siloed, creating problems attracting the next generation. He stressed the importance of addressing issues such as climate change and diversity head-on if the industry was going to make itself sound relevant.
“Diversity is something we don’t have conversations with on a global level,” Ginsberg said from New York as demonstrations in the Black Lives Matter protest raged near his house.
Wei Zhuang from the Young Professionals in Shipping Network China told the forum: “The shipping industry is not confident in being a good story teller which makes it hard to attract smart talent to our industry.”
Wei said it was vital shipping used social media to send a more positive message about the industry. For instance, how shipping has been far better than other transport sectors in tackling greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need to be more brave, more bold, not shy to tell our story and be more visible telling positive stories,” Wei said.
Gina Panayiotou from the podcast It’s ALL About Shipping said that the skill set that the younger generation has can bring what she described as a “reactional mode” to finding solutions to the traditional ways of the shipping industry.
“I am a strong believer in branding this industry better and raising awareness of what we do,” Panayiotou said, adding that there needed to be role models who really inspire the younger generation.
This latter point was also picked up by Fotini Papachatzaki from Youngship Cyprus who urged the industry to get more mentoring done, perhaps discussing with stakeholders such as WISTA or the International Chamber of Shipping to make mentoring more official.
Danae Bezantakou, the moderator of the event from YES Forum, agreed, saying there is going to be a big change of generations in shipping in the coming few years.
“It is very important to get the knowledge of previous generations. Shipping has always been a brainstorming kind of industry,” Bezantakou said.
In concluding, Panayitou, a Cypriot lawyer now based in London, said: “We have a duty to change this industry from the outside inside and it is in our hands to create the future of this industry.”