London: Shipping’s looming skills gap must be tackled now, says the new president of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) in an exclusive interview with Maritime CEO today.
Jane Smallman was appointed as the 114th president of IMarEST this March, becoming the first woman to hold the position in the institute’s 127-year history.
After gaining a PhD in applied mathematics, specifically the computational modelling of water waves around structures, Smallman modelled chemical systems for British Gas before moving to HR Wallingford, a specialist consultant in the field of civil engineering and environmental hydraulics. She was initially involved in maritime civil engineering and went on to develop business and manage and direct projects throughout the world. She retired as managing director of HR Wallingford last year, and in addition to her IMarEST activities, is also a part of the advisory board of the UK’s Centre for Ecology, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).
“There is no doubt that in recent years the marine industry has been attracting too few new entrants, and faces both a shortfall of staff and a serious skills gap,” Smallman tells Maritime CEO.
“We need a wide range of skills to ensure the marine sector’s continued prosperity. To my mind, it really comes down to making the best use of people’s skills and using the right tools for the job.
Sometimes people can become to preoccupied by formal qualifications,” she adds.
For its part, IMarEST introduced its Sea Your Future programme, a multi-tiered initiative devised to help young people map out a career in maritime and to show them where it might lead.