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PH seafarers assured of employment by European shipowners

Filipino seafarers remain to be the top choice of European ship owners, even in the face of continous technological advancements that lags the country behind first-world maritime nations.

According to Mia Morales, business development director of Döhle Shipmanagement Phils. Corp., a direct representative of Germany’s Peter Döhle Schiffarts KG, European principals continue to favor Filipino seafarers due to their loyalty, resilience, and ability to collaborate in stressful environments such as vessels.

“Technology can never replace these valuable traits related to empathy,” Morales said. “These characteristics are the very essence why they come over and invest in our country despite the various challenges in doing business here.”

Maritime stakeholders reveal in the recently concluded Seafarer’s Conference (Seacon) 2019 that the outdated modes of education and training in the maritime sector made Filipino seafarers less competitive in the age of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), a period characterized by automation and artificial intelligence.

Former Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator C/E Marcial Amaro emphasized how competency is no longer enough to remain competitive in an industry where job security entails technological proficiency.

“Filipino seafarers need to keep themselves updated with the latest technological developments and must be open to change,” says Morales. “Ship owners and ship managers are always on the lookout for the latest tools that can help the human element of vessels adapt themselves to technological advancements. Seafarers, however, must be willing to collaborate with the ship owners and ship managers. The seafarers must be open to change,” she explained, adding that change is good unless someone resists it, “then you get left behind. It’s a reality in all industries, not just in shipping,” she said.

Morales, on the other hand, clarified that while 4IR has already taken place in shipping, it still has a long way to go before the human element is removed from a vessel’s environment. She stated that robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality (VR) are more felt in areas that support the manning sector such as training and data management.

“Smaller VR equipment have replaced the simulators that we have right now and data management are used nowadays to make sure that our seafarers are supported in terms of career development, training, physical, and mental health support.

“The main concern now is upgrading the skills of Filipino seafarers so they can adjust to the technological requirements of the revolution, not to eliminate them from the vessels. That is when repositioning of careers have occurred in the Philippines. So far, this means that the 4IR has given our seafarers more opportunities – the option to stay on shore or to continue working onboard a vessel,” she said.
Source: The Manila Times

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