Lorna Wagner, Programme Manager, People & Skills, at Maritime UK

This year and the last will be remembered for many things. From lockdowns and Line of Duty, to Tik Tok and the Tiger King. Perhaps the most crucial trend of all, however, has been green.

Few of the world’s major economies now lack a commitment to reach net zero, and businesses, brands – even UK local councils – are flocking to join them.

What we have seen in just a few short years is nothing short of a historic alignment to tackle the climate crisis.

And few are more committed to the task than our young students and job switchers. They are not only looking at recent events like the G7 and the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow, but increasingly, the climate is also influencing their lifestyle choices, what they buy, and also, their choice of career.

Maritime can be a home to all those who want a career dedicated to safeguarding our planet’s future. And they can be sure that these opportunities will be diverse enough to appeal to people from all walks of life, and with different skillsets.

The freeports announcement in the Chancellor’s most recent budget will be creating 76,000 jobs in the sector in the coming years, and we know many of these will be green.

But this is just the beginning of a green jobs boom. For the future is net zero, and the global job market will inevitably follow.

Offshore wind is just one example. Research by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) estimates those employed in the UK’s industry will rise from 26,000 currently, to 69,800 by 2026.

The offshore wind industry relies on maritime to keep it functioning, meaning a large number of jobs are generated indirectly. For it is the fleet of vessels that ferry engineers from shore to turbine, ensuring the farms are maintained. It’s the seafarers who operate them. And it is the naval architects and engineers that design and build these vessels. And the innovators who are developing smart charging points for future battery vessels to recharge at the turbine, helping to get to net zero. 

Every day, these skilled professionals will be supporting the world’s historic transition to renewable and sustainable sources of energy.

Maritime is also a place for problem-solving entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts, who can join the race to develop the solutions required to steer our ships in a green direction.

Their first job could be with Windship Technology, who have just finalised designs for what it has called the ‘Tesla of the Sea’, powered by solar panels and sails inspired by aircraft wings, with carbon capture technology on board.

Or with Belfast-based Artemis, developing an electric propulsion system for hydrofoils – which are the fins underneath a boat – that could enable vessels of the future to operate with 90% less energy with no emissions during operation.

Or they could start their career at ECOsubsea, who have developed a unique mechanism that not only removes the organic matter that settles on hulls – reducing friction and saving up to 40% of costs on fuel – but using this organic waste for environmentally friendly biogas which can then be used to power our homes.

STEM skills are not only wanted, but creative thinkers from the arts and humanities are also needed in this race to net zero.

And emerging from World Oceans Day earlier this month, alongside the launch of Netflix’s Seaspiracy earlier this year, awareness of how integral our seas are to life on Earth has perhaps never been higher.

For those who are interested in protecting our oceans, maritime can play host to the most rewarding careers. Whether that is for those with backgrounds in marine biology who want to work in fields such as marine conservation or the study of our oceans. Or those with electronic engineering skills with an appetite to innovate, with companies like AutoNaut deploying autonomous, solar powered vessels to study the health of our waters and collect information about plastics.

For our part, Maritime UK partnered with the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) to highlight the opportunities available in this sector on World Oceans Day, bringing people from this varied field into classrooms and lecture halls.

And we continue to offer resources to all education professionals through our careers hub, with vital information about routes into green shipping, as well as an industry ambassador programme supporting more than 1,000 schools and colleges.

As the world continues its journey towards a sustainable future, we hope that many will see a career in maritime as a way for them to tackle the climate crisis and protect our one shared home.

By Lorna Wagner – Programme Manager, People & Skills, at Maritime UK

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