WE (that's you too – as in we in this industry) have been complaining for some time now about the lack of good management in the shipping industry leading to low crew morale and poor retention levels; it's a global concern that hopefully, with the help of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), is something that will no longer keep us awake at night. Okay, maybe that's a bit optimistic, but it's good to see that Warsash Maritime Academy is the first to have gained MLC accreditation from the MCA for its leadership training.
Warsash have launched two courses on HELM – Human Element Leadership Management – at operational and management levels in accordance with the MLC.
At operational level, the 3-day course is for those MNTB/MCA students who have completed their first seagoing phase, and includes a wide range of areas including best practice when it comes to communication, and an awareness of any communication barriers – and indeed cultural difficulties – that could face seafarers. Other areas covered are risk assessment, conflict management, team work and leadership, and how to manage workloads. They're all pretty sensible management ideals whatever your industry, but particularly when it comes to communication, they're essential in shipping.
There are also more interpersonal matters covered within the course – for example how to recognise fatigue and stress with your colleagues, and how to deal with those issues. And we know these are not your regular 9-5 management situations; they're on board a ship with several nationalities, 24hrs a day, for months at a time and in a dangerous environment. In roles like these, leadership is of paramount importance.
There is also a 5-day management-level course which is for technical officers; those who will be able to control the operation of a ship and be responsible for everyone on board. It's not just about compliance with the MLC. It is widely acknowledged that access to good training is a significant retention factor, let alone the direct benefits it brings for safety and staff morale.