As companies grow in size and operations, it becomes increasingly clear that their focus has to be redirected to their core activities while the non-core functions can be ‘sent out’ or ‘outsourced’ to vendors specialised in that particular function.
A couple of years ago Green-Jakobsen (GJ) and TORM entered into an agreement about outsourcing the training of seafarers in TORM. This arrangement has been in force since 2013 in Manila and since 2014 in Mumbai, and it covers a varied range of courses, e.g. § 16 Safety & Health courses, Danish Maritime Legislation courses, Hot-work courses, Environmental Compliance courses, Bridge Team Familiarisation courses, Anti-Piracy Awareness courses, Maris ECDIS courses, Vetting courses, Sertica courses and Induction courses for newly employed seafarers. The following is an interview with Bente Boa (BB), Global Head of Training in TORM and Capt. Ashok Menon (AM), Senior Manager of Training in TORM India, in which they explain more about the agreement and the business benefits it holds.
BB: The recruitment process is taking place in cooperation with Green-Jakobsen. We have advertised internally in TORM, and together with Bjarke Jakobsen I have interviewed the candidates, tested them to make sure that they have the right “talent” as an instructor before they are contracted by GJ. We have done so both in India and in the Philippines. We have not been able to recruit all instructors from within TORM, though. For example, one of GJ’s instructors based in Manila will substitute a TORM instructor who will be at sea for the next three months. Fortunately, this instructor has previously been employed with TORM, so he is now a fine back-up for us.
BB: We want to encourage job rotation within TORM and the idea is that the instructor could go on with this job for 2-3 years and then return to one of TORM’s vessels for a contract at sea, if he wants to. However, things have developed somewhat differently and it appears that they are not necessarily interested in returning to their seafarer career.
One of our instructors in Manila will sign on for a 3-month contract in order to retain his license. After that he will return as an instructor. This does not pose any challenge to us as we now have someone who can help us find another instructor in the meantime. This is one of the reasons why we are collaborating with GJ.
What is the advantage of recruiting trainers among own officers, and is it your experience that the officers perceive this opportunity as a good arrangement?
BB: The original idea was that the instructors should be somebody from our own fleet who knows TORM well. This ensures an important authenticity when they are facing the seafarers in the classroom. The instructors have a good basis for performing their job as they know our company from inside. It also provides a career opportunity for a senior officer who can then try out another career option.
BB: Yes absolutely, provided, of course, that they are interested in that kind of job. We have officers already who teach at the maritime training centres when they are not at sea, so this is quite natural for them.
BB: We can see from the feedback we receive from the course participants that they are very satisfied with the instructors. Also it eases the dialogue when you are taught by someone who “speaks your language” professionally. We currently have a dialogue between the office and the instructor in order to ensure that the seafarers get a fair notice about their course participation.
AM: The feedback received from all the trainees who have undergone training with GJ trainers indicate a strong acceptance and appreciation of the high standard of training imparted by GJ staff.
BB: Yes, they are. At the moment two of our instructors are involved in the development of a Sertica Bunker course which will be placed on the Seagull course platform when ready. As another example they are also involved in the development of our own painting course.
BB: We are profiting from this knowledge in the way that we have professional assistance at hand regarding the Seagull programs. It can be a handful to keep track of these if one is not an expert. We would like to be able to track our training and be informed how many and what courses our seafarers take. And we do this via the Seagull system. We also keep an eye on who is completing our induction programme. This is a field where we are not experts ourselves so therefore it is an advantage that GJ can assist us as we do not have this competence in-house.
BB: Our instructors are accredited as §16 instructors by GJ as part of the ‘outsourcing package’. The fact that these compulsory courses are now easily available for us makes it a lot easier to plan that the seafarers get these courses and we are not depending on other training institutions to deliver them. Of course we see it as an advantage that we do not have to worry about the availability of these kinds of courses.
BB: We are cooperating with our local training managers in Mumbai and Manila. They regularly meet with the instructors and together they are planning ahead. This plan is published on our intranet which also enables me to see what courses will be held and when and thus gives me a picture of the instructors’ amount of work. We also receive their reports subsequently reflecting the actual course activities. In addition to that GJ Copenhagen submits a monthly report specifying the time consumption and comprising the feedback from the course participants and their rating of the training. This gives us a very good overview of the activities and I know how many of our seafarers have taken the courses, how the quality of the training is and whether the participants find it satisfactory. The reporting is a good management tool and in case there are too few or too many participating in the courses I can intervene and discuss if anything should be done differently.
In terms of economy we have a fixed agreement with GJ and we pay a fixed amount every month. This means that I know the cost per month and how many working hours I can expect for this cost. We have made some calculations to compare this outsourcing agreement with the alternative option where we would hire our own instructors, train them, ensure certification, follow up, coordinate and plan the courses – in other words do it all ourselves. It is a clear advantage for us that GJ is taking care of all these administrative tasks, including taking care of the day-to-day follow-up with the instructors. Besides, we have a pool of standard courses offered by GJ available to us. I would say that this is a typical outsourcing agreement where GJ deals with all the hassle, and we clearly profit from it. The only thing I need to do is to let them know when we need the courses and which ones. It saves a lot of resources. Also we do not have to deal with employment responsibility, social benefit or requirements in case of illness, etc. All this is taken care of by GJ. In short: we get what we need without having the administrative burden.
AM: We are extremely glad that GJ (India) has been actively partnering us with our various in-house training programs for the past one year. As we have a constant dialogue about our training requirements and planning, we are happy that we enjoy a very constructive and smooth relationship since we started.
AM: The success of GJ partnership with our TORM Philippine office gave a definite comfort factor working with the Indian set up. Having a very competent training staff in the India operations gave the much-needed leeway for the TORM India training team to concentrate and expand on other initiatives being undertaken. In addition, GJ support and active participation in the new initiatives were very welcome. Overall, this is a win-win situation for both organisations.
BB: Well, you could say that training the instructors is part of our training strategy. By having stable, to-the-point delivering and well-familiarised instructors it is possible for us to deliver training according to our strategy – and to continuously develop it.
AM: Overall, I am happy that GJ is contributing to the success of TORM by being constructively engaged in the important sphere of training of its seafarers. We hope to build on the good start and look ahead for greater success in the coming years!
Then I would have to spend a lot of time myself to ensure our training quality and train all the specialists I would have to involve. Previously we would typically pick different people from various departments possessing specialist knowledge, for example someone from the safety department and others from the vetting department, etc. And I would have to coordinate all these ‘instructors’ residing in various locations to make sure that they follow the same curriculum and that they are pedagogically equipped to convey the message. You are not necessarily a good teacher by being an able specialist. Besides, we would have to buy external suppliers for some courses, e.g. the § 16 courses.
The point of departure for this agreement is that each party does what we are good at. The fact that TORM ´s core business is not to be a training centre releases resources and it is left to GJ to develop and conduct courses in the most optimal way.
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