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Impact of digital disruption in the workplace learning: a case of marine engineers

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 15:27 authored by Saratkumar NarayananSaratkumar Narayanan, Gholam Reza EmadGholam Reza Emad

Context The introduction of new technology and digitalisation is revolutionising workplaces and changing the way engineers learn in their workplace. Like many other sectors, the international shipping industry too has evolved due to the digital revolution. New ships are being built with increasing automation on board. Traditionally, the most critical aspects of a marine engineer’s education were carried out during the apprenticeship training on ships. With the recent digitalisation of systems, tasks are getting internalised, leaving no clues about the work procedures to an onlooker (Emad, 2010, 2017). There is a growing apprehension regarding the negative impact this creates on the skill development of marine engineers, necessitating an in-depth study of their onboard learning.

Purpose As part of the digitalisation, traditional analogous equipment onboard ship’s are progressively being replaced by digital interfaces. This introduces complexity and questions the current practices of maritime education and training; whether they are equipping the seafarers to deal with a digitalised workplace. This paper identifies gaps in the existing literature on the introduction of new technology onboard ships, its impact on learning, and competency development of marine engineers.

Methods A systematic search was carried out for peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers on the topic of workplace learning of mariners in major academic databases. An additional search was undertaken for articles on digitalisation onboard ships, its impact on workplace learning, and the competency development of mariners. After reviewing the identified articles, they were categorised according to thematic focus.

Outcome The literature review revealed that disparate studies exist on seafarers’ education and training, seafarers’ competency development, and the impact of digitalisation onboard ships. However, studies combining all these i.e. exploring the impact of introduction of new digital technology on workplace learning and competency development of seafarers could not be found.

Conclusion/Recommendations The literature review revealed a gap in the research on the competency requirements of maritime workforce in a digitalised future. With the shipping industry poised for further digitalisation and automation, it is imperative that research is undertaken in this area to ensure a safer future for maritime transportation.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 31st Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference






Australian Maritime College


The University of Sydney

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Rights statement

Copyright 2020 Saratkumar C. Narayanan and Gholam Reza Emad

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Professional development and adult education; Autonomous water vehicles