Maritime Skills on Vessels & Shore – the STCW Convention’s Relevance & Recommendations

Vivek Jain (Ed.)

Notion Press / Sagar Sandesh, 2023

Dr. (Capt.) Vivek Jain has released this seminal book for seafarers and maritime industry, on 25th June, International Day of SeafarersThis book is of the seafarers, by the seafarers, for the seafarers..In hard copy it is available on all electronic platforms and e-copy will be released shortly. The book counts 422 pages and 23 Chapters divided into four parts. Through this book, the Editor is giving to the maritime industry a new model of skills-set for seafarers. 

According to Dr. Jain, Seafarers are the beating heart of all maritime trade and their expectations/perspectives alone should be centre of all solutions for maritime skills for them. From this standpoint, he has explored the issues of maritime skills with critical gaps following a framework of research methodology. This exhaustive book can serve as a guide for further revisions or revamping of the current STCW Convention.

The issue of critical gaps in maritime skills is further exacerbated due to the impacts on seafarers due to change in – eco-system, status & relationship with stakeholders, technology, focus on renewable energy, anxiety levels and so forth. Furthermore, stakeholders can no longer ignore the fact that seafarers are leaving their seagoing career after working only for few years and there is a need of portability of skills. Therefore, the editor has also explored a need for preparing seafarers for transition into maritime shore jobs to preserve their maritime skills for maritime industry. In addition one of critical gap in skills pertains to female seafarers, who are crucial to plug the shortages but they need safe working environment. There are two chapters on it from two female maritime professionals. The book also deals with skills required to think about welfare of seafarers as it will assist in retention of seafarers.

Dr. Jain has divided the researched critical gaps in maritime skills into four groups (Jain’s Model for Maritime Skills) – Panoptic, Social Intelligence, Upskilling & Reskilling for on board vessels, and Portable Skills for future shore jobs. Panoptic and Social Skills are core skills required for both onboard vessels as well for maritime shore jobs. 

Panoptic maritime skills included concepts such as sustainability of skills, adaptability skills, innovation skills, Self-protection maritime skills for seafarers – knowledge of financial literacy, human rights and relevant Insurances, incorporating higher level skill in whatever is taught to seafarers. Social intelligence skills include appreciating empowerment of women, gender and cultural sensitivity, skills in seafarers about thinking of welfare or seafarers and behavioural competency to survive. Upskilling and Reskilling for on board vessels would be required in areas such as enhancing mental skills to cope with stress and fatigue, digital maritime skills, adopting skills to cope with advancing controls system and automation, LNG-fueling, tactically using simulators, workshops and laboratories to enhance productivity, enhancing skills associated with security on vessels, appreciating general average skills and Polar and Ice navigation skills for new trade routes due to climate change

Follows a voyage to discover, persuade, persevere and collaborate with number of exceptionally experienced subject-matter experts over many months to pursue collaboratively many mini-research projects adopting specific methodology across all selected maritime skills to plug these critical gaps and they are – (1) from countries such as India, Philippines, Romania, South Korea, Malaysia, UAE & Singapore, (2) from both genders, (3) from deck, engine & professionals settled ashore, (4) with current experience in industry and/or sea at fundamental level, and (5) from seafaring supplying nations recognising/experiencing relevant socio-economic circumstances of seafarers.

Around 21 professionals have worked with the editor over many months on a set structure of research on each of the identified maritime skill with gap:

i.Stage 1 – what are the elements within the identified maritime skills with critical gaps?  (To comprehend the critical gaps) 
ii.Stage 2 – do the courses and training on board vessels pursuant to the existing STCW Convention (as amended) ensure seafarers have such maritime skills?
iii.Stage 3 – the remaining maritime skills or their components that are not covered through training and experience pursuant to the STCW Convention (as discussed in the above stage 2) are gaps in the elements of the maritime skills identified as having critical gaps in Step 1.
iv.Stage 4 – Recommendations and conclusions to plug the critical gaps in those elements of maritime skills as identified in the above stage 3

From this book, the seafarers will not just get the ideas how to plug the gaps in maritime skills but also how they can transition with their existing skills to a few maritime jobs such as marine superintendents, marine managers, designated person ashore, pilots, managers supervising new build/second-hand vessels, IT managers in maritime domain, Marine surveyors, marine experts/investigators, marine pilots in ports, maritime arbitrators and managers in a ship yards and so forth. The proposed solutions may also assist resolving the issue of shortage and retention of seafarers.