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MARITECH facilitates discussion on attracting and retaining young professionals

Photo: Glenn Walters, SNAME

Each year, millions of young people enter the workforce, and some go on to work in the professional field. These young adults become known as young professionals. Organizations across all industries are looking at how to attract and retain these young professionals, but it is not such an easy task. Studies have shown that professionals from the millennial generation are most likely to switch jobs. This mindset makes it challenging for organizations to retain talent.

In the marine sector, this is no different. In the last decade, the Canadian maritime sector has grown with the emergence of many new companies trying to gain a foothold in the market, and at the same time, the older, more established companies have increased in size. While this was happening, the task of designing, constructing, maintaining, supporting and operating commercial, naval and government vessels has grown to become more complex, requiring more competencies and talents. As such, to recruit for careers in the maritime domain requires specialized education, training and experience, while the complexity of shipbuilding and support requires a culture of continuous learning to keep these staff productive.

Currently, naval architecture and marine engineering programs are available at only a very limited number of colleges or universities in Canada. After decades of relative quiet, the requirement for experienced teams in the Canadian and global maritime sectors has outpaced the ability of these traditional marine programs to produce the numbers of qualified individuals needed. Although the industry was able to recruit seasoned professionals from other nations and other industries like the aerospace or automotive sectors, there is a need to transition to produce a larger number of qualified candidates – and to retain them.

This topic was discussed at MARITECH 2019, which was held on April 23-25 in Ottawa. The panel provided leadership perspectives from industry, government, academia and the professional society by sharing their experiences and lessons learned in recruiting and retaining people for the increasingly complex task of designing, building and supporting ships. The panel was led by Angelique Davis from Vard Marine. She is a member of the planning committee that represents the viewpoints of young professionals at MARITECH 2019. Andy Smith, Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Shipbuilding, Canadian Coast Guard; Suzanne Beckstoffer, President, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME); and Dan Ross, Complex Project Management, Telfer School of Management – these other industry leaders also offered insights as part of the discussion.

Photo: Glenn Walters, SNAME

Apart from the lessons on attracting and retaining young professionals in the marine industry, the need for effective succession planning strategies to arm staff with the skills, experiences and professional networks to lead more complex, complicated and highly technical projects and programs were also covered.

MARITECH was created by the Canadian Institute of Marine Engineering (CIMarE) in 1976 and is the premier event for the marine engineering community in Canada. The next MARITECH event is on the theme of Vision, Innovation and Trending in the Marine Sector and will be held in Halifax, NS on April 28-30, 2020.

If you are interested in sharing your marine knowledge by presenting at next year’s event, feel free to submit your technical paper proposal by going here. The closing date is September 30, 2019.

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