Maritime Transport in 2040: How future technologies will impact seafarers

On 26 June, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the World Maritime University (WMU) launched a flagship report entitled, Transport 2040 - Impact of Technology on Seafarers - The Future of Work, during the Shaping the Future of Shipping event in Manila, Philippines. The research results provide an in-depth exploration of a number of maritime issues related to future ship technologies, including automation, and seeks to qualify the probable impact on seafarers.

Key findings include a Technology Road Map that offers comprehensive insights into future shipping technologies and their evolution in the maritime industry, looking primarily at automation and the technology transition. Divided into short, medium and long-term expectation horizons, the Technology Road Map covers industry trends within main and subtechnologies, including the relevant policies, opportunities and threats they respectively entail as reported by key stakeholders.

According to the report, the technological transition in the maritime industry will affect seafarers differently depending on their profession, rank and job function. Seafarer skill foresights are presented in alignment with the Technology Road Map, taking into consideration a wider scope of technological developments within smart, MASS and green shipping that will affect the future of work at sea. Findings include that upskilling and reskilling are important interventions in support of seafarers in light of the rapid change their working environment is set to undergo due to the advancement of smart and green technologies. 

Throughout the report, the importance of training is highlighted as critical to the success of the transition towards automation and digitalization. The report also projects that technological transition in the industry is expected to result in the emergence of a range of new kinds of jobs for seafaring professionals. The report projects that the impact of such new technologies on seafarers will be influenced not only by their individual preparedness for change but also by the conditions offered by each country. In support of these findings, 23 Maritime Country Profiles are aligned with the Technology Road Map and skills foresight.

The impact of advanced new technology in the maritime industry on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) of Seafarers is reflected in four Country Report Case Studies that investigate technology-related OSH issues including the risk of automatic surveillance by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data, technostress, safety and health concerns on board battery-powered vessels, and internet use.

Two key messages include the necessity of supporting seafarers with lifelong learning and career development as well as the importance of ensuring that the adaptation of advanced technology also promotes the health and wellbeing of seafarers. Recommendations include that these priorities must address the adverse effects of technology that may potentially harm seafarers.

The report provides the necessary insights and analytical resources to support the Maritime Just Transition which will require the involvement and commitment of every maritime stakeholder to the future of the industry.

To access the full report, click here. 

About the Transport 2040 - Future of Work Project

The Phase 1 Report - Transport 2040, Automation, Technology, Employment - was launched in 2019 and provides an overview of the most significant global trends in automation and technology affecting transport workers. Key findings indicated that technological advances will be gradual and vary by region, and that workers will be affected in different ways based on their skill levels and the preparedness of different countries.

Building on the insights of Phase I, Phase II began in May 2020 looking specifically at technology evolution, the future skills and competencies, as well as occupational health and safety of seafarers. Technology evolution considerations include green, digital and smart technologies as they relate to maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) as well as conventional shipping. 

About ITF

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is a democratic global union federation of 670 transport workers trade unions representing over 20 million workers in 140 countries. The ITF works to improve the lives of transport workers globally, encouraging and organizing international solidarity among its network of affiliates. The ITF represents the interests of transport workers' unions in bodies that take decisions affecting jobs, employment conditions or safety in the transport industry, such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


About WMU

The World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden is a postgraduate maritime university founded in 1983 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. The mission of WMU is to be the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and oceans education, professional training and research, while building global capacity and promoting sustainable development. WMU is an organization by and for the international maritime community and is committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

Related Documents
No items found.
Dissertation title
Deniece M. Aiken
Maritime Governance: Contextual Factors affecting Implementation of IMO Instruments
Anas S. Alamoush
The Transition to low and near zero carbon emission ports: Extent and Determinants
Kristie Alleyne
Spatiotemporal Analyses of Pelagic Sargassum: Biodiversity, Morphotypes and Arsenic Content
Kristal Ambrose
Contextual Barriers Facing Caribbean SIDS in the Global Governance of Plastic Pollution. Assessing the need for harmonized marine debris monitoring and contextual equity to support participation in the global plastics treaty negotiations by Caribbean SIDS
Ajay Deshmukh
Hinterland Connectivity and Market Share. A case of Indian Container Ports
Roxanne Graham
Combatting the Marine Litter Crisis in the Windward Islands: Examining Source-to-Sea Pathways and Fostering Multi-Scale Solutions
Tricia Lovell
Trinidad and Tobago
The Problem of Abandoned, Lost and otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) in Eastern Caribbean Small-Scale Fisheries. Understanding the Challenges, Defining Solutions
Renis Auma Ojwala
Gender equality in ocean science for sustainable development
Yingfeng Shao
Harmonisation in the Rules Governing the Recognition of Foreign Judicial Ship Sales
Seyedvahid Vakili
The Development of a Systematic, Holistic and Transdisciplinary Energy Management Framework to Promote Environmentally Sustainable Shipyards