Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ice smart owners?

Traditional family Greek shipping is based on relatives and close friends rather than professionals and corporate management with business plans, human resources and merit systems. Of course this is not that family shipping does not work well and is very profitable. Generally Greeks are not investors in human resources. This includes crewing where often they prefer low cost rather than quality. Training beyond statutory obligations has come late in Greece. There is insufficient concept of continuing education. Port captains, especially of the older generation, often have limited education and mainly practical experience. Companies are often groping for standards on these matters. Of course, there are exceptions, but as a rule Greek management spends little money on people and human resources management is not widely applied. Proof on a national level is the millions of Euro transfer money the Greek government has put into asphalt and concrete public works, whilst leaving the public educational system in a poor state spending less than any other EU 15 country in this area and tolerating very low standards. So Greek Owners may be investing a lot in expensive hardware. It remains to be seen whether they will spend on the people and training.
I wish my fellow Greek compatriots the best in these ice trades. Generally we could achieve much more meaninful economic development in Greece by investing seriously in people. This includes the maritime sector for better trained crews, etc. Scandinavian Owners are generally well ahead of us on these matters both in the office and at sea. This is a fact with the much higher labour productivity due a first class educational system. I also experienced this in France when I was working in Monte Carlo. I suppose that I am especially sensitive to this due my experience in parcel chemicals trades and the transport of hazardous cargo where high operating standards are a critical part of the business.
With the Euro currency, administrative expenses have reached very high levels in Greece so labor productivity is going to be a major issue in the future.

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