FORUM ETC 2019: DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES AND FUTURE CHALLENGES FOR SEAFARERS

Larysa Yeroshkyna

Shipping 

The 7th International Forum «Education, Training and Crewing» (ETC) will take place on 5th-6th June, 2019 in Odessa. This event is sponsored by National University «Odessa Maritime Academy». Mikhail Miusov, Rector of the University, DSc, Professor, tells us what this active attention to the forum on the part of the shipping community is associated with, what key issues are included in the conference agenda and how the Academy is going to celebrate its 75th anniversary.  

 

– Mikhail Valentinovich, ETC Forum gathered more than 75 organisations and companies from 20 counties throughout the world in 2018. What number of participants is anticipated this year?

– It is anticipated that the number of the forum participants is to be higher this year than in 2018. We associated this with the fact that this event has been held for the seventh year in a row already and become traditional as well as with a forthcoming celebration of the Academy`s 75th Anniversary.

In connection with this date so much important for the Academy, a decision was made to join the forum and anniversary celebration. Lots of guests coming to us for the celebration showed their willingness to take part in ETC too. They include our partners from the maritime educational institutions in Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Philippines and Sweden. Besides, there is a new good tradition: some companies join their events to the forum. For instance, Ango-Eastern Ship Management will have been holding its seminar shortly before ETC for the second time already. Furthermore, the Marine and River Transport Workers Union of Ukraine will run the II Europe-Asia Maritime Summit on 3rd June just ahead of the forum too. On 4th June, the seminar for seafarers will be held by the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners «INTERTANKO» under the auspices of the Academy.

– Are there any companies that will take part in the exhibition for the first time?

– First, I should point out that Transas, our committed partner, has become a part of the corporation «Wärtsilä» (Finnland) that is a general partner of the exhibition. The general partner of the conference is Kongsberg (Norway), and the general partner of the forum is Anglo-Eastern Ship Management (Hongkong) in principal. The number of new participants includes such companies as Antaeus Marine Travel Group (Greece), Solstad Offshore (Norway), ASP Crew Management Services (Singapore), simulator centres Baltfortas and VINDA LT (Lithuania).

What concerns the conference, the list of participants is constantly updated. For example, in the previous years we had representatives from Belgium, Denmark, the USA, Switzerland and Japan. This year, the representatives of these countries are unlikely to be present. But there will be specialists from Kazakhstan, Romania, Turkey, Sweden, Philippines and Finland. It has already become a tradition that representatives of Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hong Kong (China), Germany, Greece, Georgia, India, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and Singapore attend the forum.

– What is this active annual attention to the forum on the part of the International Maritime Organization connected with?  

– It is connected with the interest in Ukraine as one of the key suppliers of qualified specialists for the international shipping. We keep our positions, though the interest in our seafarers is changing. The case is that today the Ukrainian seafarers «cost» more expensive already in comparison with the workforce from Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Turkey. Sure thing, we may not speak here about the fact that migrants from Southern-Eastern Asia are less professional. There are experienced and qualified seafarers everywhere. And apart from it, many shipping companies invest huge amounts of money in the personnel training as well as in their own educational institutions. That is exactly why we can observe a strong competition among countries today. Many countries, e.g. Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Norway, strongly support the marine education. Ukraine manages to compete with them despite the fact that specialised education institutions do not get any support from the government for their development.

What key issues are included in the program of the conference ETC-2019?

– The title of the conference is «Education, Training and Crewing». Correspondingly, we pay our attention to these very aspects every year. They are matters related to education, requirements presented by shipping companies and international organisations as well as ways for their implementation at educational institutions. As for the practical training, here we should consider two aspects. The first is the on-board practical training. In this case, the interaction of shipping, crewing companies and educational institutions is very important for providing a due quality of training. The second aspect is the practical training within the walls of educational institutions. In this regard, it is important for us that all our events are attended by developers of simulators and software. In particular, such companies as Kongsberg, Wartsila (Transas), VSTEP and Videotel will take part in the forum this year. It should be pointed out that they manufacture simulators and up-to-date equipment, training programs used either on-board or ashore.

– The report of the Managing Director of Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, Mr. Pradeep Chawla, will be dedicated to the shipping management in the age of digital technologies. Exactly what kinds of questions will be discussed within the matter of the presentation?

– Today, a very important problem is the automation equipping level of marine vessels. Lots of technological operations are performed by means of computers and logic controllers. It means that the subject of reliability and safety as well as cybersecurity is relevant.

If to speak about the future, we will see autonomous ships operated without crews in the coming years. Therefore, lots of aspects related to their management, interaction with other vessels, port calls, etc. appear.

In the field of recruiting, digital information technologies have also been used for long. Various procedures related to the crewing, employment are automated: usually a seafarer does not need even to come to a company`s office as he can pass tests and interview online. Furthermore, seafarers have an access to the information about available vacancies, time of a ship`s arrival at a certain port, expected replacements, etc. through different computer appliances for them. In a word, the report is expected to be quite informative.

– Mr. Norman Schmiedl, Director of the Crewing Office of Columbia Shipmanagement, will speak about challenges for future seafarers. What trends can we see today already?

– Firstly, I would like to note that in 2018 there was an amalgamation of Columbia Shipmanagement and Marlow Navigation, thanks to what the company became the largest recruiting company in the world. So, I think that Mr. Norman Schmield has something to tell as well as to speak about his vision of the future crewing in the climate of this strong dependence of shipping on politics. For example, today the global society is following the course of negotiations between the USA and China about the trade tariffs. The whole global trade, shipping volumes and what types of ships to be the most demanded greatly depend on it. Speaking about the seafarers` future, I`d like to accentuate the report prepared by the representative of the company «Anglo-Eastern Ship Management», Fleet Crew Director, Mr. Soma Nair. His report is dedicated to the analysis of competitiveness, advantages and disadvantages of the Ukrainian seafarers at the international labour market. I should emphasize, this is a vision of the international company, where seafarers from different countries work. Anglo-Eastern Ship Management gives a high rating to the Ukrainian seafarers, so I`m sure that it will be interesting for the attendees to hear the analysis of success of our seafarers as compared with other nationalities.

– Mikhail Valentinovich, what are your expectations of ECT-2019?

– Due to a difficult political situation in Ukraine, our partners, including representatives of the shipping companies, are fearful of going to Ukraine and take an explicit break in recent years. Companies need stability; when investing their money, they have to be sure that these investments will produce corresponding results in some years.

ETC Forum will give a chance to show that Ukraine keeps training a skilled workforce for the global marine fleet in full swing, and this available experience in collaborating with many shipping companies shows fairly positive results.

– How does the International Maritime Organization value the Academy`s contribution to the maritime industry?

– More than 200 recruiting companies work in Odessa; the Academy has contracts signed with most of them. Such a number of crewing agencies shows, in the first instance, that we are trustworthy, and the global shipping companies are interested in the Ukrainian seafarers. It should be noted that the indicator of long-term collaboration prospects is not just to provide cadets with places for their practical training on-board, but the sponsorship for procuring new appliances and simulators, which is given to the Academy by our partners as well. They include V.Ships, MSC, OSM Maritime Group, MOL, Stolt Tankers, Stargate Maritime, Columbia Shipmanagement, Minerva Marine and others. Through a grant of 660 US Dollars won by the Academy within the investment project of the International Maritime Employers Council (IMEC) and Marina Transport Workers Union of Ukraine, an all-encompassing engine room simulator manufactured by Kongsberg Maritime (Norway) was purchased and suitable rooms were overhauled. Top world shipping companies are satisfied with our graduates. New companies take an active interest in the collaboration. In particular, we`ve been visited recently by the representative of the cruise company «Royal Caribbean», Captain of one of the company ships, our graduate. They are going to launch the cadet program, and it is for the first time when our cadets have already got an opportunity to be interned aboard the company ships. Recently we have signed agreements with Minerva Marine, Crossworld Marine Services, Solstad Offshore and some others.

– In 2019, National University «Odessa Maritime Academy» is 75 years. What events are planned within the framework of the forum on the occasion of celebration of this date?

– The first is the very forum as such. We invite every seafarer to attend the exhibition at the Seaport on 5th-6th June. Maritime educational institutions, simulator centres, shipping and crewing companies, companies-manufacturers of marine simulators, equipment and software will be exhibited there. In parallel with the conference, presentations, seminars and roundtable discussions for seafarers will be held at the exhibition. We invite our graduates to the Academy on 7th June. This day we are going to open some new labs and simulators, to hold a presentation of a new book about our academy`s history – «Chronicle of the Odessa Maritime Academy», a solemn assembly and meeting of graduates and guests with the alums of the Academy.

 

– Mikhail Valentinovich, thank you for the interview! We wish NU «Odessa Maritime Academy» success and prosperity!

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