Published on 20 May 2020

As the industry is constantly evolving, there is also a continuous need to proactively approach the ongoing learning needs of our seafarers. Based on this philosophy BSM one the largest 3rd party Shipmanagement Company operates 4 MTCs globally to pri-marily deliver training and career progression programmes for its own seafarers and 3rd party clients. Mr. Theophanis Theophanous, Managing Director at Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Greece) explains BSM’s Career Progression Training system that has been designed to facilitate seafarers’ advancement through the various ranks and describes the group’s initiatives to use its extensive organizational IT infrastructure to provide Value Added programs remotely via webinar due to the COVID 19 impact globally.

Do you provide your students the right educational fields that boost their skills and capabilities as well as broadening capacity for innovation?

BSM operates 4 Maritime Training Centres (MTC) globally; Mumbai India, Manila Philippines, Limas-sol Cyprus, Shanghai China and a satellite in Poland. These MTCs primarily deliver training and career progression programmes for BSM’s own Seafarers but also offer training to 3rd party clients associated with the Maritime Industry. There are two fundamental reasons why BSM elected to operate its own MTCs. Firstly, the quality of STCW training varies widely around the world. Flag states interpret the convention differently and often seek to satisfy only the minimum requirements, resulting in a poorer quality of training in many cases.

BSM has developed the centres precisely to control this and provide a higher quality of training to our seafarers. This also enables us to provide bespoke programmes that incorporate BSM’s policies and procedures, ensuring we deliver relevant, current and fit for purpose training to our fleet personnel. Secondly, there is an erosion of knowledge and skills that go un- or under-utilised over time. Regularly attending professional training programmes enhances our seafarers’ grasp of challenging concepts and provides further opportunities to learn, understand and practice those concepts and the procedures applied on board their vessels. Seafarers with areas in their performance that needs to be improved, get additional opportunities to close performance gaps and improve their individual competence.

Competence is more than just academic reading and test-taking, it is a demonstrable characteristic formed by a combination of practical and theoretical knowledge, cognitive skills, behaviour and values which, when used in the correct manner, improve performance. Continuous training is a trusted best practice for developing competence for any role, seniority or experience. Even the most experienced and senior personnel have new things to learn and skills to practice. As the industry is constantly evolving, the adoption of technology grows and behavioural and learning styles change, there is also a continuous need to proactively approach the ongoing learning needs of our seafarers.

Do you organize seminars and lectures on hot shipping topics such as IMO2020 Sulphur cap, Tier III IMO NOx, BWMC, MRV/DCS and generally strategies towards the decarbonisation of shipping?

BSM Human Resource Marine organises and delivers training and seminars that address the maritime industry, its changing nature and global trends as listed above. BSM places a high priority on compliance in a pro-active manner particularly focusing on environmental compliance and provides this in the form of training programmes, learning initiatives and periodic meetings of fleet leaders who are seen as our Champions.

Have you invested in the diversification of your educational services taking advantage of the digital technologies such as AI, IoT and distance-learning? How the Covid 19 pandemic has impacted the educational programs of your school?

Currently all BSM MTCs are closed due to the COVID 19 impact globally but we used our extensive organisational IT infrastructure and capabilities to deliver instead a range of Career progression and Value Added pro-grammes remotely via webinar. It is of high importance that we continue to refresh and maintain the skill of our seafarers during such restrictions. We also support this with a range of Computer Based Training packages available both ashore and on our vessels. Unfortunately courses and pro-grammes with a high practical content of simulator based content cannot be delivered with distance-learning but we are looking at ways to deliver some elements of those programmes remotely.

What are the programs and levels of studies of your organization? Describe the students’ life in the university/school campus.

BSM delivers short duration maritime based courses, our longest course is currently 12 weeks but this is the exception as most are 15 days or less. The BSM Maritime Training Schools are private institutions that do not fall under the auspices of respective Governmental education ministries, as mentioned previously, we deliver career progression and value added programmes and courses.
BSM’s Career Progression Training has been designed to facilitate seafarers’ advancement through the various ranks. Attendance remains at the seafarer’s discretion and each Ship Management Centre is responsible for fully supporting its crew members who seek to obtain this professional development. To the extent that our seafarers want to be empowered to make effective, independent decisions and be valued for a job well done, they can pursue this training and ensure they achieve the individual development and skills competencies required to effectively and efficiently work in a challenging and multicultural work environment. In contrast, BSM’s Value-Added Training is driven by the Ship Management Centres and/or individual clients, who assess seafarer eligibility for the training available. Value-Added Training aims to plug any knowledge gaps and generally supply vessel and equipment specific skills that are critical for operation of a given vessel. Our Maritime Training Centres have full catering facilities and we are generally able to accommodate also the crew within the school facility which is a great chance for teambuilding and exchange of ideas. We are effectively a “one stop shop” for career development programmes for our seafarers.

Have you developed innovative programs and partnerships that your competitors are not able match?

Our Maritime Training Centres (MTC) are modern training institutions, leveraging an extensive and often very specialised list of equipment. Our training uses advanced and realistic simulators and other relevant equipment to deliver a practical learning experience. Our MTCs strategic aim is to deliver innovative programmes for our crew. Most recently we have developed MTC Cyprus to provide the full range of LPG, LNG and IGF Code programmes with a new Liquid Cargo Simulator and we are proud that this is the only school able to deliver the full range of such programmes in the region.

Describe other school’s activities such as programs of working experience, alumni club etc and what are the future plans of your organisation?

BSM are dedicated to assisting our employees both onboard and ashore to develop to their full potential. Since 2016 we have been running a HiPo (High Potential) accelerator programme for personnel who have shown potential to be able to grow into leadership positions throughout our organisation. This includes twenty four months of mentoring, business assignments, seminars, industry event participation and innovative or-ganisational development. A few years ago, BSM also selected the World Maritime University of Sweden to provide our employees with postgraduate education to advance their skills and future BSM development path. Furthermore, we have found the employment of local Greek university as well as Eurasmus students during summer vacation months a mutually beneficial endeavour. Providing selected undergraduates with essential hands on work experience, to bring their theoretical knowledge to realisation and BSM with fresh thoughts to feed our innovative values.
In terms of crew, aside from the discussed Maritime Training School activities, BSM also co-operate with various universities and colleges in the countries of crew supply, to support and enhance local education as required and recruit high level cadets and junior officers for our managed fleets.

For the remainder of this year and for the upcoming two years ahead, BSM Hellas is embarking on a strategically planned expansion. We are pleased to be expecting an increase in dry, wet and gas sectors as well as our local crew and ship management teams. There is also an impending change of office location to match this development and we are really looking forward to this exciting change of environment, to further drive our positive mood and ensuing vessel management activities.  

Interview by El Navi - Special Report: Maritime Education, May 2020