A good introduction is not just a question of well-being

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There is a special feeling associated with the first day at a new job – often a mixture of excitement and confusion. Will I be accepted? Will I feel good working here? The creation of relationships is important for a good social climate at the workplace, to be able to trust others and do the job well. On ships, where crews live and work together, relationships need to be developed so that people know some personal details about each other. At the same time you are expected to work, and work safely.

A good introduction is not only a question of feeling good together; people who are new on the job run a greater risk of having accidents. This is often because new employees do jobs differently from those who know the routines, but they may also be unsure of exactly what responsibilities and rights they have and are reluctant to ask about work-related risks. Those who have uncertain and/or temporary jobs also run a greater risk of having accidents or falling ill. This is a major challenge for the shipping industry, with all its different kinds of working conditions, training and salary levels. On most types of ships it is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid a continuous turnover of crewmembers on board. For students on marine officer programmes, it is even seen as an advantage to do placements on a number of different ships, which means that they are new every time they sign on during the whole of their programme. I have had students who have come to me in tears about their placement, who have had to choose between staying in the gym or the sick bay, who have looked after their supervisor’s children on board, or who have never been called by their name during their time on board. When I read Carl and Johan’s report (page 6), I am struck above all by what low expectations students have of their placements. What does this say about the shipping industry and future recruitment when young people, about to start their career in shipping, say that they thought it would be worse? In view of the recent alarm concerning the poor supply of skills in this sector and the need to attract more women and men to maritime training, it is remarkable that so little progress has been made in keeping the interest of those who have shown a desire to work at sea. Welcome them on board and make sure they have the right conditions to achieve their best, to work and to develop their skills!

Cecilia Österman, researcher at the Kalmar Maritime Academy

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