In researching WorkBoat's March cover story on maritime employment, I came across an interesting bit of information in the five-year Strategic Plan drafted last July by the State University of New York Maritime College.

In assessing the current and future students who will sit in their classrooms, SUNY Maritime made the following observation:

“We are dealing with an entirely new generation of students who have a totally different mindset about learning and what constitutes value in education, and as 'consumers,' have different expectations.”

And they’re not talking about messy rooms and party hangovers.

These are students who will engage in some serious job hoping, not wanting to stay with the same job and same company for their careers. They will also move around to different locations and will shop around to get the best perks and salaries.

And most of all, they have a totally different mindset on communications, wanting instant messaging, instant photos, instant talk, instant music.

As SUNY explains it using a bit of bureaucratic jargon, “they are less willing to endure separation from personal networks, and reduced communications.” In other words, today’s students suffer from severe separation anxiety when removed from their life support of smart phones and iPads.

It’s a challenge for maritime companies to figure all this into their hiring practices and workplaces, but they must.

SUNY also notes that licensed graduates are transitioning to onshore jobs more quickly than their predecessors, or opting to not go to sea at all. “Some will choose not to sail on their license and immediately after graduation take shore-side jobs in maritime-related or other industries,” the plan said. “This is also why there is increasing demand at the College for the civilian engineering and business programs.”

Hot job markets can be found in the tug and barge industry, offshore energy (crewing offshore platforms, drilling ships and OSVs), and for intermodal shipping professionals, as transportation systems become highly interconnected.

Generation Y has arrived. Are your batteries charged?


Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.