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Seafarers Awareness Week – The ship to shore pipeline

To celebrate Seafarers Awareness Week 2016 (20-26 June), we will be posting one blog each day guest-written by our HR Consulting department. 

How many of us can say that we love our jobs? How many of us can say we love the industry that we work in?

People reading this will probably be from the maritime industry, but what if we ask the same question to other industries? How many people do we know in our lives who have moved between industries and sectors during their careers?

Walking on-board a ship, the captain will show the utmost pride in sharing his home (his ship), and introducing his family (the crew) and everyone will be seen as a unit with a sense of togetherness. Equally a broker will have a pride in saying they are in shipping or offshore…. not just a broker!

However the maritime world can be seen divided when it comes to ‘sea’ and ‘shore’ – are they two different areas of business or should they be treated as one?

After all, at some point those at sea will come ashore. Admittedly we can’t say when, or what job they will move into, as very often and typically it will depend on what jobs are available. But are we blinkered and missing opportunities? As it stands currently, we encourage those with sea experience into just a small range of jobs ashore. We should look at what is stopping those individuals being introduced to a wider range of roles across all areas of the business including more commercial roles. And at what point in their seagoing career should they step on terra firma. For example, should everyone aspire to reach a Captain or Chief Engineer first?

Maritime HR Association research shows senior people from sea are looking at a decreasing number of positions ashore. Demographics are changing and the future will look different. And 25% of those seafarers questioned in a survey had been at sea for over 22 years. 70% would recommend a career in the industry, though only 23% said they had received any support in adjusting to a life ashore.

As an industry do we give sufficient time to managing and planning our pipeline of talent coming through, or is it that we have two separate pipelines that are not joined up.

The reality is that we should have a steady and rich flow of interested and passionate resources available to us, and maybe we just need to make a few clearer and important connections in our ‘pipeline’ (between the sea and shore). Instead of the traditional moves ashore into Superintendent roles, we should consider the whole spectrum of positions in the company. By comparison with other industries how many companies have examples of moves into finance, IT, purchasing, bunkering, or chartering, and consider an individual’s personality, attitudes and opinions and preferences?

An early (or rather earlier) insight into what an individual may want to do, what their personal preferences are with the provision of additional support could be of huge benefit. Ultimately, we are looking to employ happy and motivated people both at sea and ashore.

Individual, team and company performance, improved staff engagement and a motivated workforce have a direct link to the financial elements of the business and ultimately ROI. Perhaps this is the area we need to be focusing our minds on if we are going to keep this industry afloat for the next generation.

Karen Waltham, MD, HR Consulting, Spinnaker Global

The more information on personality profiling, raising self-awareness and career transitions visit

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