View from the Bridge

Posted: April 2, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Ian Livingstone MANAGING DIRECTOR

It has been a very exciting couple of months at Clyde Marine Recruitment, even without all the political drama surrounding Brexit. During a busy start to 2019 we secured two significant new RoRo Catering contracts with blue chip ferry operators.

During the last two years, we have been working on a digital project with Ankaa Ltd to revolutionise the way we work. Ankaa Marine, the first in a series of modules, is now largely operational with the corporate mobile app soon to launch.

The system provides us with an interactive digital filing cabinet for running our crew management operations featuring real-time access to crew data and certification for our clients. Additionally, our seafarers have secure access to the online portal, with an accompanying mobile app coming soon, ensuring GDPR compliance in the way we collect and share their data.

The mobile app will operate as a valuable communications tool so we can send travel details or the master can communicate delays to schedule. The app also delivers push notifications for pending certificate expiry in addition to being a means of capturing certificate copies and securely updating personal information.

The Ankaa Marine Captain and Crew functionality was beta tested then subsequently rolled out on two Aberdeen freight RoRo’s we undertake the crew management for. Our offices have also been using the system to assist with testing and development. This has led to streamlined internal processes with some contracts now operating a paperless system.

The new contracts recently awarded saw the first deployment of the self-registration tool in the field. We were extremely pleased with the seafarer feedback with more than 300 seafarers self-registering. In the second batch of 165 seafarers we used the banking verification tool which confirms validity of IBAN number entered. With a two-week window to gather crew data, issue SEA’s and then achieve a 100% success rate on payments is testament to how digital has changed the way we work.

We are now working to complete Ankaa Recruiter, which will provide a sea change on how marine recruitment is undertaken and ensure compliance with GDPR. Ankaa Employer is also envisaged, providing the employer visibility on all seafarers and the ability to scrutinise credentials before issuance of SEA’s. Useful analytics on the joiners and leavers is also available ensuring the employing entity is fully aware of their staffing position.

So now to the political maelstrom, which is particularly worrying for the use of EU nationals on UK domestic trade. The threat of imposing a 30K per annum wage requirement before granting UK work permits should Brexit finally take place, is simply madness. There is a school of thought that seafarers will have special rules applied and be able to travel as non-EU nationals do currently with international trading ships. Although how this would work on domestic trade is unclear.

The SNP spoke some sense about the reliance in Scotland of EU labour across many industries that will be badly hit if this is enforced. Across the UK mobility of labour has been the engine room of our economy driving success. The UK demographic of native ratings is appalling, and ship owners and operators will be unable to continue sailing unless there is some latitude given to the movements of our seafarers following the possible Brexit day, if indeed it happens.

One thing is very clear – a general election now would just make matters worse as the parties are split, regardless of left or right, on whether we have a deal, no deal or just remain. Nobody thought out how the uncoupling process would work and instead focused on an eventual panacea. This is indeed something Scotland must consider before we see Indy Ref 2.

Regardless of all this uncertainty, our busy period is fast approaching with seasonal operations and summer timetables kicking in.

If you are a seafarer looking for a change or fancy some additional work please get in touch with our recruitment teams.

If you would like to hear more on our digital revolution and how you could embrace some of the technology we have developed please get in touch.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the summer ahead and thank our seafarers and clients for their ongoing support.

IAN LIVINGSTONE, MANAGING DIRECTOR