Creating a tide of talent by improving overall human sustainability

Taking place on 22-23 September 2022, the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit gathered over 200 maritime leaders to explore ideas for action on shipping’s major long-term challenges and opportunities. Working in groups with their peers, one of the main topics participants discussed was the need to increase the overall human sustainability in the maritime industry to make it more attractive to the next generation of talent.

December 07 2022

The way companies treat employees is increasingly under scrutiny. In the maritime supply chain, appeals have come not only from young professionals but also from governments, investors, customers and the public for the industry to significantly improve its overall transparency on human sustainability. Faced with increasing difficulty in attracting and retaining talent, industry leaders recognize the importance of collectively improving the “s” in ESG (environment, social and governance).

The participants in this working group thus explored what it will take for the global maritime industry to become truly attractive to the diverse workforce of the future. Winners of the Future Maritime Leaders essay competition contributed to the discussion and shared the outcomes of a workshop with more than 30 young maritime professionals recently hosted by the Global Maritime Forum.

Different perspectives on what makes a career attractive

Industry participants and young professionals concurred on the importance of purpose but had different views on what else makes a career attractive. The industry participants suggested the deciding factors included stable and financially rewarding employment, international opportunities and the employer’s responsible behavior, while the young professionals emphasized diversity, inclusion, flexibility, decent work conditions and career prospects. Both groups agreed the maritime industry’s value proposition is lagging behind other industries when it comes to addressing the career priorities of younger generations.

Committing to transparency on human sustainability

On this basis, participants explored the benefits of a more ambitious pursuit of transparency and mutual accountability on human sustainability issues. This would lead to faster progress across the industry and help shape a strong, appealing ESG narrative to attract talent.

Several group members discussed developing reliable “s” indicators for the maritime industry. Some proposed indicators were measures on equitable remuneration, physically and psychologically safe work environment, staff retention, employee engagement, diversity, inclusion, sense of belonging and workforce fatigue.

Creating a global forum for maritime youth

Participants discussed how to ensure that young professionals’ voices are actively heard. The group suggested a global forum to directly engage future maritime leaders in addressing human sustainability in the industry and making it more attractive to younger talent.

Collectively investing in educating future talent

Participants also explored how companies can work together to build, train and educate the skilled workforce of the future. For example, companies could collectively fund new educational programmes, student scholarships, sea-shore integrated training programmes, case competitions and maritime programmes targeting children and young people in elementary and high schools.

Making the maritime sector’s terminology more inclusive

Part of the discussions focused on challenging some of the ways in which talent is currently categorized and organized in the industry. Participants pointed out the need to update talent categories to reflect more current, inclusive approaches to talent management (e.g., from “able-bodied” to “able-skilled” or from “seafarers” to “maritime professionals”).

Key actions

  • Develop reliable social indicators for the maritime industry, for example by expanding the scope of Neptune Declaration Indicators
  • Create a forum for the industry to engage with young maritime professionals
  • Invest to build and train the workforce of the future

This excerpt is taken from Braving rough seas, a new report summarizing ideas for collective action that emerged at the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit 2022 in New York. Read the full report to learn more.

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