Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University (WMU), delivered a keynote address at the 9th International Maritime Transport and Logistics Conference (MARLOG) that was held virtually from 10 to 12 October.
In her remarks on the topic of the “Future of Maritime Education and Training in the Shed of the 4th Industrial Revolution and Modern Technology,” President Doumbia-Henry highlighted that the integration of digital, physical, and biological systems in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have a tremendous impact on governments, business, civil society and individuals. An unknown is the speed, breadth, and depth of changes as entire systems are being completely transformed.
With regard to the shipping industry, President Doumbia-Henry emphasized the main challenge is to ensure safety at sea and the protection of the marine environment. Rapid changes in technologies and especially the challenges of digitalization, such as the introduction of maritime autonomous surface ships and the development of digital shipping and logistics processes, will impact on the issue of safety. Maritime Education and Training (MET) has a significant role to play in ensuring that shore personnel have the training to meet these challenges.
“There is no doubt that future professionals have to be suited to adapt to the continually changing environment. This means that to prepare students for an unknown future, it will be important to help them to learn to deal with uncertainties, take risks, confront dilemmas, embrace complexity, recognize the limitations of their own knowledge, and maintain one’s health and wellness,” said President Doumbia-Henry.
She maintained that technological change is more likely to alter jobs rather than to eliminate them, referring to the WMU Report (2019) Transport 2040: Automation, Technology and Employment – The Future of Work. For the maritime sector, special attention will need to be paid to digital skills, in combination with maritime skills, and an understanding of port operations. The tasks of maritime professionals are anticipated to increasingly transform into digital ones, especially in operation monitoring and system management, that will most likely reduce operational work.
“Educational institutions have to be ready to adapt to recent changes and to present effective solutions for the development of students’ respective knowledge and practical skills to be able to respond to volatile labor market needs, with an emphasis placed on the possibility of their quick adaptation to rapid technological and digital changes,” said President Doumbia-Henry.
In concluding, President Doumbia-Henry emphasized that in order to make MET a reliable tool, the issue of competence of trainers/instructors has to be considered while implementing changes. Further, the continuous upgrade of competence of teachers and instructors in education sciences requires special attention in order to make MET a successful tool in implementing changes and new challenges in shipping.