Blog: Transitioning from ship to shore - how the industry is helping

Fena Boyle, Training and Careers Co-ordinator for the MNTB, takes a look at how the industry is helping, and the future work required, for British Merchant Navy officers to make a successful transition from ship to shore.

Seafarers often get asked whether they still consider themselves to be seafarers once they swallow the anchor and move ashore. The answer to this, for many, is a simple ‘yes’ as they have been, and always will be, a seafarer. For some though the answer becomes a tangled web of confusion and emotion as they try to work out if they are still ‘seafarers’ all the while attempting to navigate through a new world of office politics and showing commitment to their new career.

The decision to move ashore is as important to a seafarer as their initial decision to go to sea. The seafarer has to consider if they are actually ready to give up their sea legs, stop carrying out the work they have trained for years to understand and the lose the comfort of knowing that they have a career for life whilst swapping it for a career driven office job, working 9-5.

The prospect of moving into an unknown environment ashore can be daunting for a seafarer. There’s a whole new job to learn, different procedures to adhere to and strict deadlines to meet. When they are ready to take the plunge, a seafarer then has a number of challenges to face and will most probably ask themselves where the jobs are located, how their income will be affected and whether their skills will be suitable for the job they are applying for.

Lack of information and clarity surrounding the maritime industry and the blurred pathways between the sectors can make this transition even harder. 

Advertised jobs often require certain qualifications and seafarers feel as though they are unable to apply for the role as they do not believe they have transferable qualifications or skills to do so.

A wider understanding of the knowledge and skills our British seafarers possess and how these can be transferable to shore based roles can help our maritime future gain the talent that is required to support and grow the industry as a whole, and forms the basis of the soon to be released Project Ulysses Report. 

The project, which has been undertaken by Merchant Navy Training Board, Marine Society, Maritime London, Nautilus and Trinity House aims also to address recommendation 8 of the Maritime Growth Study considering the current and future need for wider skills and qualifications across the UK maritime sector as a whole.

The report which will be launched at a seminar, Chaired by HRH Princess Royal on 17 October at Trinity House. 'Ship to Shore: What's Missing for the Seafarer?' will focus on developing the training and skills needed by UK merchant navy officers to make a successful career transition from ship to shore and sustain the UK as the leading maritime centre into the future.

This report is the product of numerous interviews with a variety of companies involved in the maritime industry and aims to smooth the path from ship to shore for once and all.

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