Crew training: The new norm or just the start?

The pandemic has transformed how seafarers are trained, but could greater shake-ups be on the cards soon?

Shipping accepts the new norm brought about by coronavirus – it has changed the way we all work, likely forever. When it comes to crew training, bricks and mortar was replaced by bandwidth these past couple of years, but is there a happy medium between remote and in-person seafarer development going forward?

Though shipping has been rather sluggish in the adoption of technological innovations, this pandemic has forced it to move at a much faster pace. For training specifically, virtual instructor-led training has been accepted as a suitable replacement of traditional classroom training. Face to face simulator sessions transitioned into cloud simulation and there has been wider acceptance of e-learning as an effective mode of learning. Cloud-based and blended learning are very much the buzzwords among today’s training providers.

Increased learning and development by office staff and seafarers as remote theory training has become the norm

“The key here being the content and the delivery style must be adapted to hold learner attention and deliver maximum benefit,” stresses Sartaj Gill, managing director of training services at V.Group.

“Increased learning and development by office staff and seafarers as remote theory training has become the norm, backed up by practical in-house classes where necessary,” says Claes Eek Thorstensen, vice chairman at Thome Group.

As travel restrictions ease off Gill from V.Group reckons most training facilities will revert to physical simulator trainings for standard courses like BTRM, cargo handling and ETRM.

With digitalisation and automation sweeping through the shipping industry, Gill says today’s seafarers and the young cadets who are coming out to sea must be skilled in using new automation technologies, be able to do basic trouble shooting and be able to interpret available data.

“This,” Gill warns, “is a significant gap which needs closing very quickly.”

Enablement and skill enrichment

Manish Singh is the CEO of Ocean Technologies Group (OTG), a company with a diverse portfolio of training brands including the likes of Seagull and Videotel.

Singh argues that seafarers benefit better from an enablement and skill enrichment approach, a move away from an activity-based and compliance driven approach to training.

“Seafarers and maritime personnel now demand learning and assessment activity to be a continual process, tied to their longer term skill development and career advancement goals,” Singh says, going on to discuss what he describes as pre-emptive learning.

Seafarers and maritime personnel now demand learning and assessment activity to be a continual process

“Greater connectivity and more astute use of data such as Port State Control deficiencies and aggregated assessment results allow learning needs to be identified and initiated in advance of a hazardous situation arising,” Singh explains.

Greater shake-up coming?

While the pandemic has clearly transformed day-to-day seafarer training, the industry should expect an even greater shake-up soon, predicts Heidi Heseltine, the CEO of Halcyon Recruitment.

“This is driven by rapid developments in technology and decarbonisation which will require a different skill set including both soft and hard skills, together with the well publicised global war on talent,” Heseltine says.

This is a theme also picked up by OTG’s Singh who tells Splash: “With the skills revolution needed to delivery net zero, increased focus on human factors and the greater governance transparency required by ESG, we see competency management systems being integral to both crew onboard and the shore- based team”.

Concluding, Singh admits that no one technology or provider can deliver all the skills needed.
“We see,” Singh says, “diverse blended learning pathways that can aggregate multiple inputs across training colleges, e-learning, simulation, etc, combining generic and OEM type-specific training.”

This is one of the articles from Splash’s Shipmanagement Market Report, a 72-page magazine published this month. Splash readers can access the full magazine for free by clicking here.

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