In Depth: What Does the Next Generation Have to Say?

It is no secret that the maritime industry is in need for qualified employees. Government, companies and learning institutions are collaborating more and more to increase the number of students and lateral entries who eventually will chose a nautical or technical job.

On 15 January 2015 the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen submitted the first ever Dutch Maritime Strategy to the House of Representatives. According to the minister, the aim of the strategy
is to preserve and strengthen the Netherlands’ maritime top position in the world. Human capital is one of the strategy’s themes to reach this goal. In short the aim is to increase the number of youngsters choosing a career path within the maritime industry by improving education and increasing the image of the industry. To make a maritime job more attractive the plan is to improve the working conditions and provide employees with more development possibilities and career prospects.

What does the next generation of the maritime industry think about becoming the next generation of young professionals? Dutch students Guus van Fulpen, Master Maritime Technology at the Delft University of Technology and appointed as Young Maritime Representative by the Dutch maritime industry, and Johan Zegers, Bachelor Ocean Technology at University of Applied Sciences Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz at Terschelling, share their views with us.

Involved with technology

Both students did not choose their study because they were attracted to the maritime industry. Van Fulpen: “My Bachelor study was Military Systems and Technology, because
I like technology. That is also why I chose the Royal Netherlands Navy instead of the Royal Netherlands Army; I had the feeling I would be more involved in technology there. Now, I am happy with my decision and really like the industry. I enjoy working with people and hanging out with people after work. On board, I can combine these two since many colleagues have become friends. After graduating my Bachelor study I preferred to continue studying and I was offered the possibility of following a Master’s programme in Maritime Technology. There are five disciplines within this Master; I chose Marine Engineering.”

The right move

Zegers did not know what he wanted to study after graduating high school: “Eventually, my dean came up with the solution. He told me about Ocean Technology on Terschelling and I decided to attend an open day. Beforehand I had no idea what to expect, but afterwards I knew immediately that this was the right study for me. At this moment I am graduating at the Royal Netherlands Navy on the topic of ellipsoidal referenced surveys, which I am aiming to improve. The main portion of Ocean Technology students get a job at survey or dredging companies like Fugro or Van Oord. I have been offered a job at a company involved in the system integration and developing of software applications used for hydrographic surveys. It is very exciting; you are handed your degree, wished good luck and that is it. It is a new step in my life which I am really looking forward to.”

Job demands

Zegers explains that the combination of sailing, engineering and developing new products is what attracts him to this job: “I like to travel. However, I also like to be at home at a certain point. This job combines those two features. Furthermore, a friendly work place is very important to me. Factors like Corporate Social Responsibility and the possibility to develop are of course also very important, but are topics I naturally take into account when considering a job. ”

“Although I will work for the navy for seven years after graduating, I have a clear view on what I would like to see in an employer”, adds Van Fulpen. “I value collegiality, appreciate a company that takes on challenges and dares to take risks, and I want to have the possibility to distinguish myself. For me, the navy satisfies these demands at the moment. I am really looking forward to become part of the maritime industry as a young professional. Especially when I look back, because then I see how little I knew in the beginning and how much I appreciate to be part of this industry now.”

Making a contribution

In the future Van Fulpen would like to make a contribution
to the industry in the shape of new products: “The navy has
a design programme for new vessels. I would really like to be able to say that I was part of the developing process and to point out an innovation of which I can say I have engineered.” Furthermore, I would like the image of the industry to change. A lot of young people still think it is an industry filled with old, conservative men and I want to show how dynamic it has become and that more and more women are involved. Network organisation Maritime by Holland and the navy are both also concerned with this and I think the knowledge amongst youngsters about the industry is growing so that is very positive.”

Being a teacher

Zegers also wants to contribute to the industry by teaching the younger generation: “In the future I would like to transfer my knowledge and enthuse the future employees of the maritime industry. The Netherlands has always been one of the best maritime nations, we cannot and will not stop innovating. On the other hand, because of the many developments in the industry, like automation, I think the profession of hydrography will be subject to a lot of changes in the future. Although, the human factor can never be dismissed.”

Anne Kregting

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