Sailors’ Society launches 2023/24 ‘Gen Z’ cadet report

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Providing a unique window into future seafaring, international maritime charity Sailors’ Society has launched its 2023/4 cadet report: Generation Z – the future of maritime.

The report uses data on topics including retention, wellbeing and diversity collected from more than 4,000 cadets at the charity’s global Wellness at Sea Maritime Schools’ Conferences in North Asia, South East Asia, Africa and, for the first time, the UK.

Answers from British cadets reveal some significant regional differences, and the global data demolishes the perception that women do not see seafaring as a long-term career.

Launching the report, produced with funding support from Norden and Orient’s Fond, Sailors’ Society CEO, Sara Baade, said: “Each generation of cadets has its own characteristics and that’s certainly true of our Gen Z seafarers. By examining these in detail through the report we can reveal what makes tomorrow’s workforce and future maritime leaders tick – what motivates them, what worries them and what the industry needs to do to retain and support them.

“By sharing this insight with the wider industry, we are giving unrivalled knowledge that will help shape the future of maritime for the better.”

Andrew Roberts, Executive Director, EMEA, of Rightship – one of the industry experts featured in the report – added: “This data only confirms the social and cultural paradigm shift that is presently at play in the industry while highlighting some of the challenges that continue to threaten the ability to attract and retain talent.

“It is clear from this report that there is a lot to learn from this younger generation.”

While the biggest concern for the majority of cadets is not getting a job after training, in the UK cadets said their predominant fear was not being able to cope at sea.

African and Asian cadets said that the offer of permanent employment would keep them in the industry along with higher salaries. But, in contrast, UK cadets wanted shorter contracts allowing a more fluid approach to employment.

On some issues though, all cadets were in agreement.

Across all the regions, the overwhelming majority – up to 91 per cent – placed the treatment of seafarers as their utmost priority when choosing their future employer. And the primary motivation for cadets leaving the maritime industry would be their treatment.

More than 76 per cent of the cadets had never been to sea and were hoping to join a vessel once they had finished their studies or training. And, highlighting the evolving landscape of the maritime industry, 76 per cent of both male and female cadets saw seafaring as a long-term career.

Johan Smith, head of wellness at Sailors’ Society, said: “The maritime industry needs to note a clear shift in priorities for these Gen Z seafarers, recognizing them as crucial anchors for attracting and retaining top talent.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded at sailors-society.org/cadetreport23

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