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‘Sea water through the veins’, research into sustainable employability

On Wednesday 11 April, the report ‘Seawater through the veins’ was presented to shipowners and seafarers by research firm Factor Vijf. This report is about sustainable employability in the Dutch shipping industry. Multiple Olympic champion speedskating, Jochem Uytdehaage, was guest speaker and spoke about his experiences as a top athlete in relation to vitality.

Reason research

In 2017, the boards of Stichting Zee-Risico 1996 and the Training and Development Fund for Seagoing Shipping asked Factor Five to conduct a study into sustainable employability of the shipping industry. Reasons for the research are current social trends such as increasing digitalization, raising the state pension age and the changing composition of the labor market. Sector-specific challenges such as being away from home for a longer period of time, the weight of the work, the diversity of nationalities on board and the regularly changing crew composition also play a role. The Secretariat of Stichting Scheepvaart, Nautilus International and KVNR were part of the steering committee that supervised the research.

Sea water through the veins

As a result of the study, the report ‘Seawater through the veins’ was published. The report contains ten conclusions and recommendations for employers and employees, as well as five conclusions for the social partners.

The seafarers (506 respondents) are proud of their work and enjoy working in the maritime sector. Seafarers most of all just want to sail. ‘Seafarers do not have blood flowing through their veins, it is sea water that flows through their veins’ one of the seafarers said during a group interview. Seafarers are worried about the shifting pension age and the future of Dutch seafarers. They are also less satisfied with the (lack off) development opportunities they have and the appreciation they receive from their employer.

Among shipping companies (28 respondents) there are major differences in what they do to stimulate the sustainable employability of Dutch seafarers. The majority of employers think sustainable employability is important, but give itless priority. Economic circumstances may play a role here.

The ten conclusions for employers and seafarers are:

• Good communication with the shore is a must to stay sailing
• Seafarers want to sail as much as possible
• The shifting state pension gives great concern to seafarers
• Seafarers estimate their craftsmanship above average
• Employers and seafarers are concerned about the future of Dutch seafarers
• Seafarers long for understanding and appreciation of the shore
• Barriers on board reduce the sustainable employability of seafarers
• Employers differ in what they do to stimulate the sustainable employability of Dutch seafarers
• Sufficient crew on board strongly determines sustainable employability
• Working in a multicultural environment with changing teams requires attention

More information can be found on the website of Stichting Scheepvaart. The report is only available in Dutch.

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