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The Human Element in Container Shipping

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Edited By Burkhard Lemper, Thomas Pawlik and Susanne Neumann

The shipping industry is run by people and for people. Thus, the main element in shipping is the «human element» – the mariners at all levels. Since the human element aboard vessels – being in and coping with a very special environment – is the crucial point of every transport chain, it is important to take a closer look at maritime human resource management issues which are scarcely tackled in scientific literature. This book deals with topics such as the criminalization of seafarers, piracy as part of shipping companies’ risk management, corporate social responsibility and human error in shipping.

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1 The choice of seafaring profession: Dr. Maria Progoulaki

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11 1 Introduction What is the dream profession for people in their early childhood? It may be common for a child to want to be a policeman, a doctor, a rock star, an astronaut, a nurse, or even a pirate. How many children dream to become seafarers? Shipping carries more than 90% of world trade; without shipping, half the world would starve and the other half would freeze. This job is done by almost 100,000 merchant ships, manned by over one million seafarers from all over the world (IMO 2008). Against an estimated total world population of 6.7 billion, these figures indicate a remarkable situation: that the feeding and heating needs of the entire world are dependent on just over one million seafarers1. The International Maritime Organization (IMO)2 draws attention to the vital service that seafarers offer to the shipping industry, an industry that contributes significantly to global and sustainable development and prosperity by carrying the world’s commerce safely, securely, efficiently and at a fraction of the environmental impact and cost of other modes of transport. BIMCO/ISF studies have highlighted an anticipated shortage of some 27,000 officers worldwide by the year 20153. Especially in some traditional maritime countries, there is an apparent reluctance on the part of young people to choose seafaring as a profession. And even for those young people who do make that choice, their careers at sea are often short as they are either unwilling or unable to take on higher duties or, even...

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