Easily accessible course on a difficult subject

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1Text, audio and video. The course on discrimination and harassment on board uses more than one medium to highlight the problems. The course will be available online after the summer, both in Swedish and English.Per Barkman, who is leading the training project for the maritime industry as a whole, says that presentation of the information is important. The subject is often thought to be a little sensitive and difficult, and for this reason it is essential to make it as easily accessible as possible.

”Even those who are not particularly interested must be able to understand this subject. The fact that we have a speaker and not only a lot of written text makes a difference, I believe,” says Per Barkman. It was also decided to use some film sequences to illustrate the subject. Recordings of staged offensive behaviour were made in the spring. Ten different scenarios have been selected that illustrate everything from bullying to racism to sexual harassment. All situations are based on real events.

”They are based on interviews with officer students who have been on placements, and who have either been victims themselves or seen others suffer,” says Per Barkman.

Per Barkman previously worked as HR manager at the Sirius shipping company, but is now a consultant in the shipping industry, specialising in personnel issues. When he is out holding courses for onboard employees, he notices that there is a great need to discuss these issues.

”When I take up examples of offensive behaviour, people sometimes recognize that they do the same thing and say, ”I usually do that too, but it’s not harassment”. After we’ve discussed the issue for a while, most people realize how their behaviour can actually be perceived.”

The reason for the course was the disclosure in the media at the beginning of last year that officer students had been sexually harassed. Since then, the shipping industry has taken several measures to deal with the problem, and these courses are part of that initiative. Union representatives, shipping companies and maritime schools are behind the project.

”Without financial help from the Mercantile Marine Foundation, we would never have been able to do this,” says Per Barkman.

The course will be available free of charge in both Swedish and English, and will be launched just in time for the term start after the summer.

”All students at the maritime schools will take it, and I hope that the shipping companies will also decide to have their staff do the course once a year. It is good to repeat the message and put it across to new employees.”

Linda Sundgren

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