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Seafarers Awareness Week – The hidden seafarers of London

As part of Seafarers Awareness Week 2016, HR Consulting have celebrated the seafarer by writing a blog a day on our thoughts and reflections of the role and their career progression to shore. 

The UK Chamber of Shipping hosted the perfect event; the ‘Hidden Seafarer’ on 21st June in their London office, to celebrate and highlight the skills of the “hidden” seafarers now working in the heart of the city. The event emphasised the importance of bringing these experienced marine employees to shore to utilize their technical skills and ‘know how’.

Claire Womersley, a Solicitor / Marine Manager at Holman Fenwick Willan, kick started the session by sharing with us her own personal case study of her inspiring move from life as a Master at sea to a shore career in maritime law. Like many of those at sea Claire found herself wanting to settle down and start a family with the typical 9 to 5 lifestyle. She knew straight off that she wanted to pursue a career in maritime law and made sure this happened by training hard while at sea ensuring the change to city life was a smooth transition. She tells us that the first step when making this huge move is to know what you want and how to go about it, she makes it sound easy but encourages others to talk to people for advice (she even mentions the help and guidance that Spinnaker Global were able to provide her!). 

Although Claire was qualified for her new shore-based role, she mentions the potential struggles when adapting to the new culture that is so unfamiliar. Not only did she have to take a big cut in salary but harder still had to go from the ‘Top Dog’ role in a typically regimented environment, to having to start her way from the bottom in a completely different environment. 

Next up, inspired by Claire’s success story, we went on to sit in small groups where one of us was a seafarer in disguise… After picking them out we discussed their current career now that they were working in the city and how it turned their lives upside-down. After rotating round to meet a few of them it turns out they all had similar stories to tell yet had all gone on to do something slightly different, some into training, law or shipping authorities and didn’t necessarily make the typical Master to Marine Superintendent transition. 

The event showcased the career opportunities for seafarers and demonstrated that with their incredibly valuable experience there were no limitations to what they could go on to do in maritime industry. Being a relatively recent graduate (not as recent as I’d like) I can completely relate to the terrifying thought of going into the unknown and starting your career without really knowing where you’ll fit best. As I’m now in an HR role in the industry I can see huge opportunities for organisations to develop and guide their seafarers into a shore based role to benefit the employee as well as the organisation. This feels like a win win situation for all and is the exact reason why here at HR Consulting we’re developing our Career Bridges portfolio of products to help organisations “bridge” the gap from sea to shore.

Jessica Forbes, Compensation & Benefits Consultant, HR Consulting, Spinnaker Global

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