24 Aug 2023
by Martin Shaw

President Martin Shaw looks to the future of the marine industry

With the Institute going through an exciting period of change, including the development of new tools for members to upgrade communication with members and the wider world, Martin Shaw, the IMarEST President, looks to the future. 

I am privileged to launch the IMarEST’s new blog series. For this piece, I want to look to the future and the important role we all have to play in it. Inspiring young people to follow in our footsteps is something that I’m passionate about, and I know our members are too. We may not yet know what the future roles will be as technology advances, but that only adds to the importance of acting now to ensure we are developing a pipeline of highly skilled and adaptable individuals who want to work in our professions.  

I recently visited Athens to meet the Young Members Network in our branch there. It was great talking to young people committed to becoming part of the shipping industry in a country where shipping is a major source of employment.  

martin shaw athens

  Martin Shaw with the Young Members Network in Athens 

In other conversations I have had with Cadets, many suggest that they join because they have relatives who are involved in the industry or with youth organisations that emphasise the sea, such as the Sea Cadets in the UK. In my case I was brought up on Clydeside when shipbuilding was still the major employer and where many engineers went to sea. I was surrounded by Marine Engineers and was also a Sea Scout, so my path was mapped out at an early age!! Today, not every young person has this exposure to our professions. 

This is why role models are so important. If a young person does not have a family member or family friend who works in a marine-related role, they are less likely to consider the option as a career. Likewise, parents, teachers and lecturers, may not be aware of the many different career opportunities open to their sons, daughters, or students. Parents are one of the biggest influencers of their child’s choice of career, so it’s easy to see why it’s important to involve them making them aware of the fantastic career options open to their children.   

There are several critical decision points for young people when deciding upon their career, especially if they want to pursue science, engineering or technology. The first is the point at which they choose the subjects they want to specialise in. We need to help students recognise that choosing STEM subjects will give them a wide range of options in future career choices.  Once you are doing those subjects, learn more about them and meet others in careers related to them, you can start to consider the career path you wish to follow whether at university or via a cadetship route. The earlier that young people meet role models who widen their understanding of potential career opportunities, the better choices they can make at these critical points.  

There is a role for all of us to encourage people to make choices that will lead them to careers in marine engineering, science, and technology. Whether it’s volunteering to be a STEM ambassador, forming links with our local schools and colleges and inviting students to our workplaces to see what we do, working with universities to provide internship opportunities, or supporting national competitions like the Sub Race where teams of university students build and race human-powered submarines, there’s a great opportunity to inspire and excite young people who will be the future of our professions. 

With all of this in mind, we are currently looking to relaunch our Sea Your Future Steering Group, if you are interested in being involved, please contact [email protected]