Tis 9 aug / År 40 / Nr 3 2022

Competence a key issue for Sweden’s future as maritime nation

Shipping undoubtedly plays an important role in the development of the global marketplace. Given that a very large share of Swedish exports and imports are transported by sea, we should see a greater political commitment to maintain the Swedish maritime heritage. Prospective sea captain Orion Alex believes in a bright future for Swedish mariners, if certain commitments are made to strengthen the entire industry in time. Alex underlines that he first and foremost strives for employment in a Swedish shipping company after graduating.

The maritime industry and its activities represent a fundamental and vital part of infrastructure for virtually all manufacturing industries in Northern Europe. Competence is a key issue for Sweden as a maritime nation. “After graduation, the transfer into the actual industry must be swift. It is primarily a Swedish shipping company that myself and most other students that I have talked to are aiming for”, 29-year old Orion Alex confirms.
Orion has almost completed the four-year program for sea captains at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

A pretty unique existence
As a child, Orion Alex often accompanied his parents on their worldwide travels as aid workers. “Maybe it is because of my upbringing that I always had a fondness for travel. Shortly after a trip around the world I embarked on a shorter training program for mechanics, where I quickly gained interest in shipping and navigation, although it took more than a year before I had decided that it was shipping I wanted to work with”.
Alex explains that he chose to study for sea captain because it is an interesting profession with a lot of responsibility and practical elements. “I like the idea of a life at sea with the opportunity to see new places and meet new challenges, which can vary to a great degree. The long leave ashore also allows for additional work or hobbies. Being at sea also imposes more stringent requirements than just work experience, as you live closely with other crew members for long periods of time, during which you are also partially shielded from the rest of the world. It is a pretty unique existence that is hard to describe, and at the same time one that is not suitable for everyone”.
Orion has had several supervisors who were very willing to teach. “I particularly appreciate the opportunity to contribute with my own ideas and knowledge in collaborative problem-solving situations”.

Optimistic future or complete hopelessness?
The number of vessels still operating under the Swedish flag and the future of Swedish mariners are aspects that are difficult to predict at this stage. “We have heard rumours of the Swedish shipping industry having anything from an optimistic future to complete hopelessness. Many ship owners prefer Swedish senior officers while junior officers’ positions and other crew positions are usually occupied by a foreign crew. If this continues I perceive a particular challenge in gaining employment with a Swedish company”.
The forthcoming SECA directives will complicate the economic situation further for companies with vessels operating Northern Europe and it will be interesting to see which solution is to be applied. Hopefully one that boosts the opportunities for Swedish officers.