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Education and training

Short-term maritime career expectations and fear of coping expressed by UK cadets at wellness conference

7 December 2023

A wellness conference held for UK cadets has revealed some stark contrasts with their fellow Generation Z seafarers across the globe.

UK cadets say their biggest concern is not being able to cope with life at sea and many think their careers will likely last just five years. This contrasted with their global trainee counterparts' fears of not getting a job at all after graduation, but who planned on making seafaring a long term career if they do get a job once qualified.

Insights from UK trainees came from a virtual event for cadets held by maritime charity Sailors' Society. The UK event, held in 2023, was the latest in a series of global online Wellness at Sea Maritime Schools' Conferences held by the charity over the last three years. There were also previous conferences held specifically for cadets in north and southeast Asia and Africa.

The conferences aim to provide vital inspiration for shaping the Society's future work on seafarer wellness and mental health,but have also provided some useful insights on how to recruit and train for the next generation of seafarers.

Several thousand cadets have attended these global online conferences held across diverse regions of the world. Polls of the cadet attendees were also taken during the events on everything from their motivation for a career at sea, to their opinions on diversity. These polls revealed that cadets from UK schools had very different views to those training elsewhere in the world.

Unlike cadets from Indian and African continents and the Pacific, UK cadets were not concerned about securing a job post-graduation. Although 86% of north Asian cadets revealed they had yet to have their first experience of seafaring, it was the UK cadets that were unique in saying their biggest concern was not being able to cope with life at sea.

The conferences also revealed that a greater percentage of UK cadets saw their time at sea lasting just five years compared to cadets elsewhere who overwhelmingly saw this as a long-term career.

Nautilus International has received similar feedback from cadets regarding their sea time experience from its own polls and discussions with young members.

'It is disappointing that feedback from the cadets highlights that they are only planning to spend five years at sea, and it no longer seen as a lifelong career,' said Nautilus cadet organiser Rachel Lynch. 'We need to get to the root cause of this, and the industry needs to make itself more appealing to future generations.'

The full data gathered by Sailors' Society at the conferences, along with analysis from industry experts, will be published in the charity's 2023--2024 cadet report in the spring of 2024.


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