Deliverable d6.1SME and Stakeholder Study: Northern Maritime University project

Maria Anne Wagtmann, Sama Afroz Alam, Alf Baird, Gordon Wilmsmeier

Publikation: Udredning/notatFaglig redegørelse


The SME and Stakeholder Study was an initial exercise to identify the education needs of the maritime industry[1] and maritime SMEs in particular. The study focused on five North Sea region countries: Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the UK, but did not look at these countries exclusively. The study was based on stakeholder views obtained from an internet-based questionnaire[2] and combined them with findings from literature. The key themes of the questionnaire were:

  • o The types of education used in the responding organisations
  • o The relevance of potential education offering types to SMEs and other stakeholders
  • o The respondent organisations' future education needs

The responses were divided into three main groups: NMU Core countries, other countries and responses with unspecified origin. The first group accounted for two thirds of all responses. The shipping and transport sector is equally presented in comparison to the seaport and seaport related activities sector.

While only a small proportion of the respondents worked in Human Resource (HR) posts, the received responses were of high quality and showed an in depth knowledge and vision on the challenges, needs and the current situation of education in the maritime and port industry.

The respondents expressed their clear preferences regarding relevant topics and knowledge areas, and the way of delivery and level of education.

Respondents were presented with the module topics and module elements of the NMU pilot courses: "Applied Maritime Transport Management", "Maritime Transport and the Environment", "Logistics & Global Supply Chain Management", "Intermodality" and "International Maritime Human Resource Management". On average, respondents judged these as either attractive of very attractive in over 50% of cases.

Management, economics, and module elements related to intermodal transport management were rated highest in terms of attractiveness. The module "Ship Knowledge for Non-engineers" was also rated as attractive by over 50% of respondents, and no further module elements were named.

Consequently, NMU's educational offerings should especially focus on shipping and multi-model transport as well as the broad spectrum of commercial or facilitating activities related to seaports (e.g. port services, terminal service provision, and port terminal operations). The "human factor" in the maritime industry is also regarded as being of high importance.

The results show that slightly less than half of the respondents (48%) have a specific strategy for the education and training of their staff or a personnel development plan for them. An important finding is that only little more than 50% of all respondents are directly and continuously engaged with educational institutions or providers. However, in the cases where engagement does exist, the majority of respondents within the North Sea Region were satisfied with their current education provider.

This suggests that there is potential demand for the Northern Maritime University's education offerings. However, this will be studied will be studied in further detail.

While the transnational approach was welcomed by respondents, the array of responses also shows that a greatest common denominator approach will be needed in certain aspects when developing educational offerings due to country specific factors (e.g. when considering the time available for further education).

Respondents also expressed that they prefer blended learning offerings. The term "blended" also receives a further dimension as respondents expressed significant interest in courses that are a mix in terms of "location", this being the university/department/institute on the one hand and in-house locations on the other.

Moreover, pure e-learning courses should not be discounted completely, as a small minority indicated that this is their most preferred way of receiving education. Here, efforts should be made to ensure that these results are reviewed and discussed in the relation to the NMU service product portfolio.

Short term specialised courses received the highest level of interest from respondents. This was complemented by the expression that current university and vocational courses should provide more "practical examples and references" and should be delivered by specialists in a particular field. Initial evidence is also given that Master as well as Bachelor level courses are the preferred options.

Further, two thirds of respondents viewed Northern Maritime University e-courses or partial e-courses with short sessions at weekends as a competitive offer, and that locating face-to-face sections of such courses in major transportation hub cities of Northern Europe (e.g. London, Hamburg, Copenhagen, and Oslo) would further contribute to their attractiveness.

However, a majority still disagreed or strongly disagreed that those full time e-learning courses and study programmes from internationally renowned institutions could be equivalent to a full-time study semester abroad. This might hint towards different perceptions of degrees from companies depending on the way these degrees were obtained. This aspect requires further research based on, e.g., the experiences with e-learning in other projects and content and format analysis of face-to-face, blended and pure e-educational offerings of other universities and private sector providers, such as, e.g.Lloyd's Register.

Thinking about the current competencies and educational development policies of maritime firms and organisations, almost 50% of of the surveyed companies and organisations motivated their employees to participate in part-time education offerings or university business courses.  Respondents indicated that they were willing to give employees 1-3 weeks per year to pursue such activities However, responses varied widely and secondary statistics indicate that working hours may also vary between (a) countries, (b) the sexes, and (c) management level personnel and ordinary staff

Finally, and perhaps most crucially, respondents were not yet necessarily convinced that the NMU idea will have the potential to improve maritime transport education compared with the current educational offerings. While on the one hand this result might be considered discouraging, it also points towards the fact that potential users need to be convinced, and that quality and experience are important to them. At this early stage of the project, with the educational offers still under development, it is hard to judge if the project will make a difference and be a competitive offer. The received responses must be monitored, something that will also allow for controlling the effect and perception of the educational offerings, once this data is available. The conclusion and message received by the NMU consortium is that the project needs to ensure that every aspect of its educational offerings are well-planned and oriented towards its market, so that it achieves the service and outcome quality that will ensure a positive mark on this aspect for the future.

In order to gain further insight beyond the initial evidence from the questionnaire, NMU is developing Delphi and Foresight exercises at national level. These exercises are the consequent succession since the application of these methodologies allows for a more detailed exploration of the underlying conditions, motivations and visions for the development of education offerings in the maritime sector. The exercises will also allow to engage with key stakeholders in a more in depth, continued and proactive manner.

[1] This also includes other maritime stakeholders (e.g. public sector and public interest organisations)

[2] The full text of the Online Questionnaire used in the study can be found in Appendix 3. Appendix 5 contains a description of the methodology used, including a discussion of validity-related issues, and, finally, a justification for the chosen methodology. Moreover, Appendix 3 contains the five different language versions of the official press release which was sent to stakeholders in the five NMU core countries, as specified in Appendix 2.

Antal sider89
Projekt nr.Interreg IVB North Sea Region
Fil nr.35-2-6-07
StatusUdgivet - 2009



  • SME
  • Interessentanalyse
  • Maritim transportsektor
  • Uddannelsesbehov
  • Danmark
  • Norge
  • Sverige
  • UK


Wagtmann, M. A., Afroz Alam, S., Baird, A., & Wilmsmeier, G., (2009). Deliverable d6.1SME and Stakeholder Study: Northern Maritime University project, Nr. 35-2-6-07, Nr. Interreg IVB North Sea Region, 89 s.