Don’t fight IT, be flexible says WISTA UK

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The WISTA UK event at LISW in 2015.
The WISTA UK event at LISW in 2015.

The human element in new technology will be just as important as IT developments in the shipping world but how will they come together to harmonise this increasingly complex world of automation.

Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association UK (WISTA UK) is to host a major conference during London International Shipping Week on 11th  September 2017 at City Hall in London to focus on the growing concerns in the logistic world about automation, the Internet of Things and how robotics will have an impact on supply chains and the human work environment.

With so many companies and services operating independently there is a real danger of silo mentality stifling opportunities, according to Sue Terpilowski, President of WISTA UK.

“WISTA UK is at the forefront of trying to change attitudes and views concerning the new technology-driven world of shipping and we are calling on people to recognise that working independently is not the way forward. People seem to fear increasing technology in their workplace and yet in shipping and industries associated with international trade it is almost inevitable technology will become the driving force,” she said.

The maritime sector contributes more than £22.2bn to UK GDP and supports around 500,000 jobs across shipping, ports, marine and business services. The UK is one of the leading maritime centres in the world and is at the forefront of the government’s programme to re-focus and re-invigorate economic growth post-Brexit. The UK is the undisputed global leader in maritime business services with a 35% share of global marine insurance premiums, 25% of maritime legal partners operating out of the UK and 26% of the global shipbroking revenue generated here.

Among the speakers at the conference will be John Hayes MP, Minister for Shipping, and a selected panel of industry experts will discuss the current state of the maritime industry as it will affect ships, ports, supply chain collaboration platforms and land logistics; the regulatory steps and changes needed in current platforms, open source platforms and blockchains and how to make the break from silo mentality; legal, security and IMO regulatory issues and what can the industry expect for career progression and gender imbalances.

Ms Terpilowski believes the panel of experts at the WISTA UK conference will illustrate how vital it is for greater cooperation in the development of technology in the industry: “This will be a gradual transition with different timelines for individual industries but we have to accept there will be less demand in the near future for repetitive and often hard manual work. The old adages about ‘hard work never killed anyone’ and a ‘hard day’s work’ will be things of the past. These new ways of working will affect the environment and the human reactions to work and leisure time. Life-long jobs may well give way to life-long learning. The only real equality that will matter will be on an intellectual and educational basis.

“The real issue is how we adapt to these technologies and we at WISTA UK believe that women will have an important role to play in this new work environment. More automation will mean less pressure on workers and women will be able to benefit from flexitime work. There will be more part-time opportunities and other flexible solutions, such as job sharing and so equality in the workplace will follow.”

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