NETHERLANDS-based Seatrade Shipmanagement BV manages an international fleet of over 70 vessels in full and in partial management. They are container carriers, feeder vessels and tankers. The recruitment of crew is done worldwide; for example in Italy, Romania, Russia, the Philippines and in the Netherlands. Seatrade workers have to meet the strictest demands in terms of quality, as laid down in the company’s ‘Seatrade Standard’.
Seatrade Crewing Manager Capt. Kor Wormmeester is one of the people who is working on making the Seatrade Standard common practice within the company and on board the ships Seatrade manages. The recruitment policy guidelines play an important role in this process, specifically when selecting crews internationally.
Seatrade has decided to allow E-learning to be a structural additional part of many 'offline' training and courses. Besides flexibility and considerable lower costs, the company recognises the advantages of measurability of demonstrated commitment to help workers to comply to the Seatrade Standard.
Dutch-based business learning company Spot On Learning BV has set up an interactive scheme, thus providing to learn English online and improve pronunciation online in the process. Online coaches and advanced technology are the ‘tools’ to establish the most urgent improvement of the individual course participant’s command of the language. After establishing the existing level of knowledge, development of the participant’s command can be monitored during the online course.
Seatrade started the English education program on board on management level and on shore with HQ staff. Partcipants current level of English knowledge - also in terms of pronunciation and comprehension - was assessed through an Entry Level Test via Skype. On basis of the results established (CEFR standards) the seafarers were divided into different 'virtual' classes. In addition participants below a particular test level were locally supported by teachers from the Spot On Learning international network.
The courses' duration is 8 weeks on average. The usual study commitment required is about half a day a week. The participant can plan his period of time for online study himself. Learning can be done via PC or the use of apps for tablets (IOS and Android).
English learning got an additional dimension through the EnglishCentral platform that is used for the programme for online English education. The platform uses video's and combines speech assessment technology with online learning. Pronunciation of English is assessed individually.
The participant involved gets dedicated feedback about the way he or she can improve command of the language. Specific idiom can be practiced by presenting it in various ways, in terms of meaning, recognition and context. Comprehensive quizzes are also part of the learning process.
Participants are also supported by Spot On Learning coaches. They work with feedback and assessment the system provides automatically. The coaches can listen in to the participant's speech, as well. They are in close contact with participants via email and — if needed — Skype, chat or My.SpotOnLearning.eu.
Participants who passed the Level Up Test, have progressed according expectation: they stepped up one CEFR level on average. Most progress was achieved in pronunciation.
Participants expressed their view on the programme positively. Learning by watching videos was considered 'fun'. It was also found that the system promotes efforts to be done to achieve clear targets.
Sergey R. was one of the participants in the 3rd Seatrade class. In an email he said:
"These English lessons are improving my imagination about different types of accents from different nations. New words are well introduced in video files as well as different situations and easy to study. Impressed collection of video material makes lessons not only like study process but good time spend as well."
The experience from the first Seatrade 'classes' led to the conclusion that working in a 'virtual classroom' and being encouraged regularly by a Spot On Learning online coach certainly helps participants to stay focused and motivated throughout the programme.
Another conclusion so far is that costs per participant are considerably lower than previous used methods to improve command of English on the proper level.
As it is, based on the registered good results, Seatrade is upscaling the project online English learning. There are more and more groups of Russians, Romanians, Italians and Dutch working according the scheme chosen. The overall target is that all workers will have to do the programme in a two years' time period.
The method will be used in wider context and is planned to be part of recruitment and engagement policy. Test results, monitored dedication and progress will be written down in the individual portfolios of the workers involved, and laid down in the Seatrade scheme for career development support.
Seatrade and Spot On Learning are also working on the production of videos focusing on the use of specific terminology as customary in shipping, transportation and logistics in general (based on the IMO SMCP standard).
Spot On Learning experts Willem Bierens de Haan and Eelco Kraefft would like to tell more about the Seatrade project and similar cases elsewhere. Please send an email using this form on the website or call us: Spot On Learning Office +31 (0)20 30 800 41, Willem's mobile +31 (0)650 521 356, Eelco's mobile +31 (0)612 363 779