IMO Secretary-General calls for crew consideration as technology advances

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim speaking at IMO headquarters at the launch of the new Transport 2040 report

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has highlighted the need to maintain a focus on seafarer training and employment conditions in light of the increasing level of technology and automation applied to maritime operations, as the industry evaluates how to balance the benefits of new technologies with safety and crew welfare.

Speaking at IMO Headquarters at the launch of a new Transport 2040: Automation, Technology and Employment – the Future of Work report by The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the World Maritime University (WMU), Mr Lim noted that the seafarer of the future will have a range of challenges to deal with as innovation and automation in maritime transport continue to change the way the industry operates.

“How will the new technologies impact on the nature of jobs in the industry? What standards will seafarers be required to meet with respect to education, training and certification to qualify them for the jobs of the future?” he said.

“Member States and the industry need to anticipate the impact these changes may have and how they will be addressed.”

The integration of new technologies into the international regulatory framework is a strategic priority for IMO, making sure that safety and security are properly considered alongside any potential impact on the environment and on international trade.

The potential costs to the industry and the impact of major technological changes on personnel, both on board and ashore, is also uppermost in the Organization’s thinking, and these are issues that are directly addressed in the Transport 2040 report, which offers an independent assessment of how automation will affect the future of work in the transport industry.

The report concludes that the introduction of automation in global transport will be “evolutionary, rather than revolutionary,” and that “despite high levels of automation, qualified human resources with the right skill sets will still be needed in the foreseeable future.”

Technological advances are inevitable, but will be gradual and vary by region, according to the report. The document also states that workers are likely to be affected in different ways based on their skill levels and the varying degrees of preparedness of different countries.

Access to the full Transport 2040: Automation Technology Employment – the Future of Work report is available here.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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