Encouraging the next generation into the maritime industry

Andrew Deere, Managing Director at Maritime Training Academy, details the actions companies should be taking to attract and encourage youngsters into careers in the maritime industry.

A career at sea is very appealing for many people, but attracting the next generation into the industry can be difficult. Whether it’s an interest in engineering, technical roles in tanker operations or joining the crew of a superyacht, a maritime career can be exciting, rewarding and inspiring – as many of you already involved in the industry can attest.  

In the UK, maritime productivity, employment, turnover and contribution to GDP have all increased nationwide over a five-year period, a new report from Maritime UK states. It’s no surprise that this is a competitive industry to work in, as the lifestyle and rewards are great. But it is really important to attract young people into the industry and give your company an appealing edge. Showing a willingness to invest in the development of individuals, could help to encourage the next generation into the industry.

Maritime careers are not always at sea, there are many exciting opportunities based onshore working in boatyards and marinas or selling to customers as a yacht broker. Young people can be attracted to many roles within the maritime industry.


How to encourage the next generation to the industry

Simple ideas are often the best. Going out and actively approaching individuals who may have never considered a career in the maritime industry is an effective way to bring the next generation into this fantastic and historic industry. Offering individuals progression and career development is another great way to attract young people into the industry, ensuring they are given a reason to stay and an opportunity to grow within their chosen field.

There are some interesting ways to make a maritime career the top choice for the next generation.

Education in schools: Many individuals are not aware of the benefits of working in a sea faring profession. Starting young and showing incentives, such as the prospect of global travel and fantastic transferrable skills, are a good place to start when educating young people on the upside to working as a maritime professional.

Apprenticeships: Companies should consider the possibility of apprenticeships and offering entry level positions to those who may not have a huge amount of qualifications. Shipping is an ideal occupation for young people seeking something exciting and different to just working in an office, which in the long run can also lead to an enjoyable and well-paid career in an international industry. Professional level apprenticeships should also be an option, as even those at a senior level may look to up-skill in their role.

Variable skill set: Having skills such as adaptability, quick thinking, potential leadership skills as well as being an effective team player should be marketed as essential skills to working in the maritime industry. Younger people may be put off by thinking they need a vast amount of qualifications in order to work at sea, however these essential skills are a great place to start. Investment in training and recognised qualifications can then take precedence later down the line to open up better career prospects. 

Open days: Large or small maritime companies can offer open days for young people to experience working in the industry; promoting education, training and recruitment services.

Sea cadets: Setting up regular liaison sessions and workshops with existing sea cadet groups could help to encourage young people into the industry. Many may think of it as a fun pastime but not necessarily a career. Offering experience days and career fairs specifically for sea cadets make a maritime career an interesting prospect.


Women in the industry

With gender equality now a huge topic in the news, the maritime field has an enormous deficit when it comes to women in the industry. In the Merchant Navy alone, women make up only 2% of the world’s maritime workforce. The maritime industry is now recognising the benefits of a gender balanced workforce, with efforts being made within the sector to recruit and retain more women, including at the highest levels.

This traditionally male-dominated area is now an exciting prospect for women across the world, but how do we get more women into the industry?

Promoting the achievements and opportunities for women in the sector as a catalyst for change is a great place to start. A distinct lack of female role models, a lack of confidence and the underlying discrimination which is prominent in the maritime industry are all factors which need to be addressed to attract the female sex.

Almost every area is reporting a skill-shortage across the board and yet companies are not doing enough to attract the women who may potentially possess the skills to fill the deficit. Maritime UK suggests a more open networking approach, targeting women as well as increasing the presence of women on advertising literature, diffusing the gender stereotype surrounding roles in the maritime industry.

At Maritime Training Academy, we have developed a strategy to allow individuals in any field to work and develop their career at the same time, with our variety of distance learning courses.

With subjects ranging from maritime law to pilotage, firefighting and superyacht operations, we believe in encouraging people from all backgrounds and ages and giving them the best opportunity to work within the maritime industry. Our course authors are experts in their field, actively working in the industry and sharing their knowledge and practical experience with our students.