International seminar to address maritime recruitment crisis and seafarer wellbeing in a changing world

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On Thursday 16 November, the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) will hold its annual seminar at the Scandic Marina Congress Center in Helsinki. The event will be hosted by the Finnish Seamen’s Service (FSS), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The theme of ISWAN’s 2023 Seminar is: ‘Addressing the maritime recruitment crisis: Seafarer wellbeing in a changing world’.

The maritime sector faces a growing recruitment and retention crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the extraordinary stresses placed on seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased workloads, reduced shore leave, an unwillingness to undertake long contracts, and the over-occurrence of issues such as bullying and harassment are just some of the factors leading seafarers to seek alternative careers. At the same time, the need for highly skilled, experienced seafarers to steer the maritime sector through the transition to zero-carbon has never been greater.

ISWAN’s 2023 Seminar will take a solutions-focused approach to exploring how the maritime sector needs to address the recruitment and retention gap, with seafarers’ welfare at the heart of all discussions. The event will provide the opportunity to hear from a range of industry experts and is of relevance to all stakeholders that have an investment in the future of maritime, including shipping and cruise ship companies, crewing agents, management companies, training institutions, unions, P&I clubs, yacht owners and welfare organisations.

Presentations and panel discussions will be themed around fair working conditions, inclusive culture and the impact of rapidly changing technologies on wellbeing. The seminar will also include a session entitled ‘The voices of seafarers’, in which seafarers themselves will share what they see as the key issues contributing to the recruitment and retention crisis, as well as the challenges they are facing and the changes they would like to see.

ISWAN’s Chief Executive Simon Grainge said: “It is up to all of us in maritime to do everything we can to build a fair, sustainable and inclusive working culture for seafarers that both meets the challenges of a rapidly changing sector and restores the attractiveness of a career at sea. The ISWAN 2023 Seminar will bring together diverse stakeholders and experts to identify the changes needed and discuss actionable solutions for the future, drawing on innovative examples of good practice.

“We are delighted to be partnering with long-standing friends and members the Finnish Seamen’s Service to bring this event to life, whilst celebrating 50 years of their dedicated work for seafarers’ welfare in Finland.”

The seminar is free to attend and offers valuable opportunities for networking, but it will be streamed online for those unable to attend in person. Those planning to attend in person should register here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/iswan-2023-seminar-annual-members-meeting-tickets-663091774347. Registration details for the live stream will be announced at a later date.

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