All Hands To The Pumps
Posted: June 16, 2020 at 11:46 am
Managing Director Ian Livingstone has taken some time to update us on how going digital has changed the way Clyde Marine Recruitment is working and how it has helped during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
We have now been using digital recruitment for three months, what’s new?
- Feedback has been really positive from both candidates and clients.
- Seafarers are uploading and cataloguing document copies using their smart phones or via the web portal
- Jobs are posted direct to the website from the system
- We had nearly 6000 registrations in three months, with 3000 of these in the first month
- When sharing shortlisted candidates details, we provide the clients with a time lapsing URL, featuring an OTP (one time password), to access all document copies and sea service with analytic. No more sitting on data they do not require.
I have been back helping recruiters, as it is all hands to the pumps in these difficult times. I remember when I was at sea coming to help my father in the recruitment business in the late 90’s. When filling a vacancy it was a case of either knowing who was around or grabbing a big pile of applications forms and going through sea service to assess suitability for a role – a slow but effective process. I then returned to the Clyde Marine Recruitment office in 2001 in a full-time capacity after becoming medically unfit due to partial deafness. I was allowed to complete my masters first which was a personal goal achieved and spent some time with one of Glasgow’s foremost ship managers.
Back in recruitment, email dramatically changed how we worked and saw the death of the fax machine. I do recall having Suzanne sending and receiving seafarer certification by fax, what a laborious process!
A consistent issue until digital recruitment arrived, has been receiving multiple documents by email or a file sharing site, and inordinate amount of time in the office checking and cataloguing the documents. It was labour intensive to go back and forward to candidates requesting updates to recent sea service and copies of new certification. We have been fighting with bulging paper files and multiple filing cabinets for decades.
The website, with the ability to post jobs directly, changed matters again and then came social media which increased our online visibility and expanded our global reach, but perhaps brought some negatives including forgetting how to use the telephone to reach people.
Changes to Law and Legislation
MLC came along to test our ingenuity around ensuring seafarers were in possession of original contracts coming up the gangway. Clients would contact us in the morning with seafarers required in the afternoon, we needed a fast solution. Thankfully the UK Chamber of Shipping lobbied on our behalf and we were provided approval to use e-signatures. This has now been fully embraced and is widely used by much of the industry.
The next challenge was Pension auto-enrolment. Some companies took the opinion it did not apply to agency seafarers, however, the advice we understood was that it absolutely applied to agency seafarers too. We came up with a sensible solution which was equitable and ensured the employer met all the legislative requirements.
Admin, Admin, Admin
While Social media and the internet drove much of the recruitment, it did not solve the administrative burden – gathering and sharing documentation, providing sea service data, ensuring sea service was up to date and we have the latest documentation copies. Our filing cabinets were bulging at the drawers and the expensive database systems were not intuitive and didn’t do the things that you really wanted them to do!
The new GDPR legislation then appeared as a big dark cloud with data overload – sharing agreements, privacy policies and indemnities that had teeth. This was another challenge, but thankfully we had moves already in hand which provided an instant solution.
A Game Changer
In February 2016 I attended a speaker session in Dundee entitled “Game Changers” with Peter Fisk. Peter is a thought leader in strategy, innovation and marketing, he helps business leaders to develop innovative strategies for business and brands. It opened my eyes and provided the encouragement to take an idea I had which would solve the many pain points we had as a business, and as an industry. So I began to develop our own system.
With significant personal, family and business investment over the past four years, greying hair, sleepless nights and extensive global travel, we now have a platform which not only solves the GDPR issue, but also so many of the historical pain points;
- Sharing and gathering multiple certificate copies securely
- Ensuring validity of documents and ease of audit
- Engaging with the candidates and the clients in our new mobile tech world
All Hands To The Pumps
As I mentioned earlier, I have been back helping the recruitment team during the COVID-19 pandemic – finding candidates, advertising positions, assessing suitability, sharing profiles digitally. With many of our team working from home for part of the last three months it has been invaluable to be able to access and share our job and candidate information from the cloud.
No longer do we have to dig through masses of paperwork, we now search for candidates digitally by nationality, vessel type experience, certificate type, and the results have been outstanding. We can find qualified personnel and get them in front of the clients faster than ever before. Securely sharing and ensuring we can be fully compliant with all aspects of data privacy, protecting both our clients and our candidates. In addition, we are seeing a reduction in unsolicited cv’s – personnel are directed to the website to register and ensure process is followed.
It is interesting to see the time and effort candidates take to fill out their profile – I wrote a blog recently on the cut of the jib. The profiles that are accurately completed in full are sent to the clients fastest, the client can view everything they need in a single link for one or multiple candidates – securely protected by the OTP. This file can then be shared internally however we track the data to ensure GDPR compliance is maintained. They have full access to all certificate copies, and sea service analytic including time in company and time in rank
The sea service was, and remains, the barometer to assess seafarers suitability for roles. We cannot stress to our seafarers just how important it is to make the effort here as it defines your experience, makes you more visible to us and means you will appear in multiple searches made by our recruitment team.
It has been a wonderful journey and very encouraging to see how it is transforming what we do in the office and across the industry; making significant improvements to efficiencies and effectiveness in operations, reducing administrative burdens and providing improved compliance is a real achievement.
So Where Next?
We have built much of our quality system and processes into the Digital system. We are automating the production of SEA’s. We are providing access to the employer to assess suitability and make substantive employment decisions on candidates recommended for contract. We are now providing digital payslips to all our crew on our payroll. Next will be the automation of the payroll process and providing clients real-time access to all contractors assigned to them.
We know the system has application across multiple verticals, Renewables, Aviation and Construction are industries who are required to manage multiple vocational qualifications and who will be facing the same administrative burdens the Marine Industry struggles with. We are looking forward to a bright future helping other businesses across multiple industries enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution.