Future Ports Workforce Research

The modern port is a significantly different place to the port of history. It is increasingly shaped by forces such as globalisation of supply chains automation and digitisation. It is also shaped by external imperatives such as sustainability. We expect these trends to not only continue but to accelerate.

This changing business and organisational environment has important implications for the people working in the sector – both today and tomorrow. Whilst there are important advantages in the future port workplace, such as safety and greater opportunities to deploy new sources of talent, and whilst some (perhaps many) future roles are currently unknown, there are undoubtedly substantial challenges to be addressed. This is not only in terms of staffing the future state, but also crucially in making the transition in a timely, efficient but also responsible manner.

Achieving a better understanding of these dimensions, and the ways to address them is not a unique challenge to any one individual port operator (although the specifics of implementation inevitably will be).

Project scope

The major port operators are commencing a piece of  research to explore the three interlinked key dimensions of change, the relationships between them and how potential solutions for how they might be addressed. These solutions are likely to be at both a sector level and a generic company level, plus potentially have implications beyond the sector (e.g. any implications for Government policy). The overall ‘exam question’ is ‘what do the likely future ports workforce and ways of working look like and how can the sector transition from the position today’.

The project will include a mixture of desk research and structured interviews. 

Current situation

The project commenced in late 2020 and the University of Strathclyde Business School was been selected to undertake the desk research. Interviews began in February 2021. A Working Group made up Commissioners and HR Directors from the major ports group has been formed and includes:

Further updates will be provided on this page as the project progresses.