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TEAMS Press Release – Gap Analysis Report

Soft skills for hard workers: a challenge for 21st century maritime training

Fostering design thinking, soft skill adoption and entrepreneurship is one of the challenges faced by modern-day maritime educational institutes, in order to close the gap between training and the needs of the 21stcentury maritime economic sector. A consortium from six organisations in four European countries, headed by STC in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, has taken on this challenge. Supported by a two-year grant of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund,  the consortium has to-date identified the focal , and is currently developing course material and training activities to enhance soft skill acquisition by maritime students.

The first phase in the project consists of an analysis of what companies in the maritime require of their employees, and compare that with what is currently taught in maritime education.  A number of maritime companies were interviewed in a focus meeting during a symposium held on December 9, 2019, at Antwerp Maritime Academy, and the outcomes of these discussions have been compared to the demands set out in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), the set of competences and skills which are required for every level of qualified maritime personnel.

Even as maritime educational institutes are closely following the STCW frame, our analysis indicates that soft skills should be integrated even more in present-day maritime training:

  • A number of soft skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking and risk management, are already addressed explicitly in the STCW competences, and covered satisfactorily in the curricula of most maritime curricula.
  • A number of soft skills are present in the STCW competences but are currently still underdeveloped in the maritime curricula. Communication and interpersonal skills require a deeper understanding of others and one’s own personality and the ability to act upon that knowledge, and students need to be coached to reach this level of understanding. Students should also be stimulated to take initiative, even in the hierarchical and procedural maritime professional environment. Even financial and economic awareness, a core entrepreneur skill, could benefit from being developed more.
  • Lastly, a number of soft skills are still lacking in the explicit wording of the STCW, such as flexibility and personal or team resilience. On a more entrepreneurial level, and despite a number of economy courses, professional selling and knowledge about a sales environment are absent from the curriculum and need to be introduced. Situational awareness is only included at a micro level of the watch and bridge operations. It needs to be expanded to a more global or macro level and not restricted to the ship and its surroundings.
  • See here to read the report.

Based on these requirements, the project team will now develop innovative training methods to close the gap between what is taught and what is needed.

Practical information:

The TEAMS project is being developed by the following partners:

More information can be requested from: Maria Looney –


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