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Skilled crews


"The availability of skilled crews is paramount – achieved by a high-quality Dutch nautical education system and unhindered access to the international labour market.”

Priority KVNR: skilled crews are the mainstay of the shipping industry

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Tjitso Westra
Manning and Training

+31 10 4146 001

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Press inquiries


Nathan Habers
Public Relations

+31 10 2176 264


The shipping industry is obliged to operate to the highest levels of safety, environmental standards and quality; this calls for extremely skilled crews. These skills need to be continually developed as the shipping industry experiences changing regulations, new techniques and automation of systems.

The foundation of professional requirements of crews is based on:

  • A legally-required certificate of competency for nautical and technical functions,
  • The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978.

It is important to note that adaptation of this convention takes time. This means that professional requirements often lag behind the latest developments taking place in the sector.

At the national level, professional requirements are laid down in the Seafarers Act and associated regulations. This forms the fundamental structure of the Dutch maritime education system. However, the structure, scope and detail of these legally defined requirements make it difficult to fit them into the general structure of MBO education (here, MBO can be explained as middle-level vocational training). The structure of HBO education allows for more flexibility, although challenges still arise there (here, HBO can be explained as higher professional education and training).

Importantly, the limited number of MBO level pupils in relation to the sheer diversity of courses for maritime professions (merchant shipping, dredging, maritime contracting and fishing) puts pressure on accomplishing high-quality maritime education at the MBO level.

The challenge

Manning regulations must provide sufficient room for incorporating innovative developments. The approval of experimental crew configurations and the issue of experimental licenses are just two examples of such innovations.

In light of the specific nature of internationally established, and legal, professional requirements, enabling the MBO seafarer education to deviate from the requirements applicable to MBO education in general would be a positive step forward.

Because of the global nature of the maritime labour market, it is also of vital importance to remove any legislative barriers for those Dutch shipping companies desiring access to this international market. This will facilitate their recruitment of quality crews, allowing them to sail safely and effectively.

State of play

The KVNR is holding discussions with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management about changes to manning regulations, during which the above points have been brought to attention. In addition, within the framework of the Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (SBB), steps are being made for a revision to the professional competence profiles for the shipping industry, initially working to review the structure of MBO-level maritime education.