The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) has published its Strategic priorities for EU shipping policy 2019-2024 report, highlighting the challenges faced in seafarer training and cyber security as digitalisation takes hold in the maritime sector.
The report says that the industry is likely to undergo fundamental changes as a consequence of digitalisation, bringing new challenges and opportunities, and that it will be important to make sure that seafarers and other maritime workers are supported with skills training as shipping evolves in the future.
“Digitalisation and automation can create opportunities such as increased efficiency, safety and environmental performance. It can be a source for environmental sustainability as it continues to provide maritime services whilst being more energy and resource efficient,” the report states.
“It is important that the human element —all human interactions with the design, construction, management and operation of ships— is (taken) into account. The demand for specialised and highly skilled crews will increase and reskilling, upskilling and new skills will be required in order to operate ships and will be essential to ensure the sustainability of the sector.”
“Training seafarers in new technologies will enable them to benefit from new opportunities that arise from technological developments. The skills strategy being developed by the SkillSea project will be most pertinent in this regard.”
The report also calls for continuous updates to be made to international standards required by the IMO’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) to reflect the changing demands on workers brought on by new technologies.
“On this, we are involved with the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) in a research project on the use of digitalisation to improve onboard safety and its impact on shipping operations generally, including employment at sea and ashore,” ECSA notes.
The report also calls for an increased focus on improving cyber resilience as the industry becomes more digitally dependent, to mitigate against the widespread disruption across the supply chain that a major cyber incident could cause.
“The industry is fully engaged in discussions at both European and international levels to find the best approach to combat cybercrimes. Cyber-security and safety management is an area that will require more attention as new technologies are being introduced,” ECSA says.
“The development of new technologies and increased digitalisation should also be seen from a broader perspective and focus should be on the entire transport and logistics chain. Moreover, the shipping industry and the maritime cluster need to establish cross-sectoral cooperation with other modes of transport, the logistics’ chain and other industries.”
The full ECSA report can be downloaded here.