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1Good length of shifts, safe work practices and more research. There were many opinions on how tomorrow’s ships should be designed at this year’s SAN Conference. One question that many speakers mentioned, though, was the importance of good leadership on board and at the shipping company ashore.

On Thursday 22 October, SAN’s annual work environment conference was held in Gothenburg. This year’s theme, The right course towards future work environment challenges, clearly interested people there. More than 90 participants were at the conference, both to listen and to take part in discussions. First to speak was the Swedish Maritime CEO, Pia Berglund, who had a clear picture of the next generation of seafarers.

”We can’t expect young people to come to us with cap in hand and ask for a job. We have to show what we can offer them to make them choose shipping,” she said.

As good at sea as on land

The cruise manager at Eckerö Shipping, Chatarina Israelsson, talked about the importance of the work environment on board. There is no reason for it to be any worse at sea than at the company ashore, she felt.

”We often hear people saying, ”You can’t do that at sea”, or, ”That would never work for us”. But I’ve worked at many places ashore, including IKEA as security manager, and we have many things in common.”

Before lunch there was a panel discussion that concentrated on recruitment. Shipowners and students gave their views on recruitment under the direction of Cecilia Österman, researcher at Linneaus University and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, IVL . Dennis Johansson from Wallenius Marine said that they mainly employ officers with a background as cadets on board their ships who had done well. Britta Patriksson from Transatlantic agreed. The students, on the other hand, emphasized how important it is to know what shipping companies expect from them before starting on a placement.

”Shipping is such a wide area and the work is very different, depending on the type of shipping the company does. It would be really good if shipping companies could say what is important for them,” said Sofie Söderberg, who is studying shipping and logistics at Chalmers, Gothenburg.

The students also expressed a desire for reasonable shifts on board and internet access, but they also wanted to have a safe work environment and interested officers.

”I appreciate it when the supervisor asks how things are going during a placement,” said Filip Andrén, future maritime engineer from Linnaeus University of Kalmar. ”The social part of work is also important, even though we want good equipment and tools to work with.”

Cecilia Österman gave her own talk about an ongoing research project that is looking into the work environment for service personnel.

”This category of personnel has the highest frequency of industrial injuries and the longest sick leave,” she said.      

Linda Sundgren

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