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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

INTERTANKO and ITF hold Young Seafarers' Focus Group Workshop

- News

- Background

- The Workshop’s conclusions and recommendations

- Comments from the young seafarers, INTERTANKO and the ITF

- Contacts



INTERTANKO and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) this week organised over three days in London a Workshop for young serving seafarers to express their views on their career and life at sea, and on what attracts young people to the shipping industry and retains them there.

The Young Seafarers’ Focus Group consisted of 20 volunteers of seven different nationalities drawn from the membership of both associations. All were young, serving seafarers of all ranks and from all ship types; all were proud of being professional seafarers; all were active participants in the discussions.

The fundamental concept of the Workshop was to draw on their thoughts, to solicit their comments, their views and concerns, and their recommendations as a collective group, without influence from INTERTANKO or ITF. Their initial findings were discussed directly by them with heads of industry and then presented in person to the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). We believe that these findings will provide additional stimulus within the industry to address attraction and retention issues.



The recruitment and retention of qualified seafarers is a matter of great and urgent ongoing concern to all shipping industry organisations and unions. INTERTANKO and the ITF recognised that, while many opinions are heard from various quarters within the industry about what needs to be addressed in order to attract young people to go to sea and stay at sea, the actual seafarers themselves had not been consulted at all in this process.

They therefore worked together to fix a way to ask them these questions directly, and thereby to establish the root causes of the current problems with recruitment and retention. The result was this 3-day workshop, listening to a group of young seafarers and learning from them. This puts us all in a better position to understand what drives and motivates the young people who are our industry’s future, to respond their concerns and motivations, and to provide an attractive environment for those who have entered, or are about to enter, seafaring as a career. 

This initiative dovetails with the Go to Sea! campaign, which was set in motion by the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization.


The Workshop’s conclusions and recommendations

The first day of the workshop was simply listening to and learning from these twenty young seafarers. On the second day, the workshop was joined by industry leaders -  Dr Swift (INTERTANKO’s Managing Director), Rob Lomas (INTERCARGO’s Secretary General), Guy Morel (InterManager’s General Secretary), Andy Winbow (IMO’s Director of Administration), Mark Dickinson (Nautilus UK’s Assistant General Secretary) who engaged in an active dialogue with the group.

The workshop culminated with a meeting with the Secretary General of the IMO, Efthimios Mitropoulos. The preliminary views and recommendations of the young seafarers were expressed, after which a lengthy dialogue and discussion was enjoyed by all.

Two representatives from the young seafarers provided a summary statement with the conclusions and recommendations of the workshop.

Summary of the Workshop’s views:

"Sir, As serving seafarers we are proud of our profession and of being at sea and feel that we are performing important work in serving global trade and the industry. Consequently we have over the last few days discussed various issues and identified areas which we consider could be improved.

We are conscious of the fact the general public do not appear to recognise the importance of our work and early in our discussions it was identified that the image of the industry should be improved, which in turn will improve our status within society. 

Other issues discussed over the last few days identified several other areas where we have concerns and would like to see action at local, national and international levels: attracting people to go sea, the criminalisation of seafarers, piracy, the importance of shore leave access, onboard training, safety and security onboard, job security and employment-related issues, accommodation standards and onboard living conditions."

Summary of the Workshop’s recommendations:

"Sir, We wish to highlight some of our findings, conclusions and recommendations based on our own views and understanding as serving seafarers.

One of the major aspects relates to the ISPS Code which we believe unjustly identifies us a potential terrorists and criminal suspects and is also used in many cases as an argument for denying us our rights to shore leave in many countries around the world. We believe this is unacceptable and we urge the IMO to promote more collaboration between administrations, ports and terminals to address the balance regarding ISPS requirements of ships. We would also recommend establishing an international reporting scheme to enable us to report cases where shore leave is denied.

Whilst we will not summarise all our recommendations today, one other object of particular concern relates to piracy. We fully appreciate the efforts undertaken by the IMO and all parties in deterring acts of piracy on the high seas. We urge the IMO to continue to exert pressure through the United Nations to eliminate acts of piracy. 

A further main concern relates to the criminalisation of seafarers where we would like to see the guideline regarding the fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident become mandatory."

INTERTANKO and the ITF will provide the IMO with a summary of the Workshop’s discussions, views and recommendations, which it is hoped will prove to be beneficial to all governments and industry representatives.


Comments from the young seafarers, INTERTANKO and the ITF

A representative of the young seafarers says, "Getting young seafarers together in this way was an excellent idea which we welcome with great enthusiasm. We very much appreciated the chance to have a say in the future of our industry, and to have our opinions heard in an open-minded and constructive atmosphere. It was also a wonderful opportunity for us to learn more about how our industry works and to meet the heads of industry associations (INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO, InterManager) and of the maritime unions (ITF) as well as the Secretary General of the IMO.”

INTERTANKO’s Marine Manager Fredrik Larsson says, “This has been a wonderful and worthwhile exercise which has succeeded better than we dared hope. We extend our sincere thanks to all the excellent seafarers who attended. They were exemplary and a credit to their companies and profession. We also thank the Secretary General for meeting with us and listening to the seafarers.”

ITF’s Maritime Projects & Campaigns Leader Katie Higginbottom says, “It was a great pleasure to work together with this group of young seafarers. I think they appreciated the chance to get across their views and I hope we can all live up to the challenge of responding positively to their recommendations. The clear message was that seafaring can be a wonderful career, but there's still a lot to be done to promote due respect for the profession in the wider world.”



INTERTANKO (International Association of Independent Tanker Owners)

Fredrik Larsson, Marine Manager

+44 20 7977 7013


ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation)

Katie Higginbottom, Projects & Campaigns Leader, Maritime Operations,

+44 20 7403 9274