The new generation is returning onboard


Newspaper TA NEA Weekend Edition, 28 May 2022

1. You participate in many events on maritime education with young people as the Eugenides Foundation works together with the Ministry of Shipping in this sector. What are your conclusions, is the new generation turning its attention towards shipping?

Obviously, Shipping has not managed to adequately pass its message to the new generation and the new generation, which has different stimuli and perspectives from previous generations has not listened to it to the extent that corresponds to it. The fact that although the admissions to the Marchant Marine Academies increased for the year 2021/2022, unfortunately, they were not fulfilled, and this means something. However, we believe that we should not lower the admission requirements. In addition to the intense effort to attract the youth so far, the direct approach with proper and honest dialogue can bring young people closer to the opportunities that the maritime profession gives them. Obviously, word of mouth should be strengthened with the plan of action in this direction. The necessary upgrade and digital transformation of maritime education, the closer contact of the ship with the student from his first trip, and the creation of an even stronger link between Shipping and young people will surely attract more young people to the maritime profession.

2. Regarding Naval Training, what changes are needed to significantly enhance and upgrade?
The modernization of maritime education depends initially on the existence of up-to-date curricula in all the taught courses. The evaluation of the programs should be done both at the structural level of the total courses and at the level of individual courses. Of course, the pivotal factor for the modernization of maritime education is the faculty. There is an urgent need to provide all the required regular teaching staff by filling all vacancies, as well as to ensure adequate temporary teaching staff. At the same time, however, there is a need to move towards an up-to-date digital educational material, which in addition to the interactive digital “book” includes additional digital tools, such as virtual reality and simulation applications, interactive learning processes, etc. It also requires teaching staff to be able to use the above digital capabilities. Finally, the need for an institutional intervention that will make a decisive contribution to the modernization of maritime education is emphasized. The acquisition of the diploma of Master or Engineer of any class will be done after certification by an independent body of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy. The body will be comprised of representatives of the Seafarers Post-Training Center, the professors of the Merchant Marine Academies and Seafarers Post-Training Center, and the shipping industry. The certification will be done regularly after a successful examination of topics selected in an inviolable way by a large bank of topics. The Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy assigned to Eugenides Foundation to prepare a holistic proposal for Maritime Education, which we have already submitted, in cooperation with all stakeholders. Emphasis was placed on recognizing claims in an institutional manner.

3. This year your group announced its withdrawal from coastal shipping. You once said about coastal shipping “I lived a quiet life before I met you”. What are your plans in this area for the future?
Oil prices, the approach of the State, but also the choice of the passenger public played a decisive role in this direction.
I sincerely hope that the companies that will operate in the Western Cyclades will continue to provide the same quality of services and a fair pricing policy on these routes. From 2005 until today, a big thank you to the 4 million passengers who chose to travel with us, to our crews for self-denial and self-sacrifice, to the management of the company, but above all to our partners and companions in the coastal, for full support and assistance.
As for the start of a new endeavor, we study the data, we will choose the moment and our intention is a new beginning, but not now in the field of speedboats. We shall see!

4. As IMO ambassador in the midst of serious challenges posed by pandemics, geopolitical turmoil, and climate change, what do you think about the future of shipping, will there be change, and in what direction?
The pandemic and the geopolitical disruptions in the mid to long-term horizon obviously do not contribute to the creation of a climate of optimism in the Shipping sector as well. Addressing the challenges requires a holistic, interdisciplinary approach, with a proper analysis of interdisciplinary effects with the right impact studies. With the vision, design, and implementation of a constantly updated but correct roadmap for a cleaner planet, Shipping will function like the veins circulating in the blood of the world economy. The European Union has recently adopted its policy that the one who pollutes is the one who pays and, in this case, the commercial operator, meaning the one who decides where and how the ship will go. Greek Shipping, which has one of the most modern fleets in the world, is always present, respecting the regulations, and will contribute to the orderly and environmentally sensitive operation of global shipping. Greek Shipping demanded and demands the provision of clean and quality fuel to all corners of the earth, a necessary condition in particular for the operation of bulk carriers that are the main backbone of Greek Shipping. From then on, targeted research based on the funds that will emerge from the ETS is the only way to achieve the goal, and in this process, I have great confidence in the decisive participation of Greek scientists.