Neurodiversatsea Responds to Maritime Skills Commission Human Skills and Behaviours Report – February 2024

29th February 2024: Neurodiversatsea, the seafarers’ neurodiversity charity, today broadly welcomed the Maritime Skills Commission’s Human Skills and Behaviours Report- February 2024.
We welcome the Maritime Skills Commission’s call for ‘promotion’ to attract a neurodiverse skills base and for the industry to be ‘inclusive of people with autism, of different cultures, with disability [and]- neurodiversity (sic)’. We celebrate the acknowledgement that “neurodiverse (sic) individuals are often particularly suited for jobs where intense focus is required,” and invite engagement with the concept of ‘spiky profiles’ and the current research base on the much broader variety of strengths and occupational characteristics associated with neurodivergent seafarers.
However the Commission’s assertion that “Neurodiverse (sic) seafarers could be better supported with their additional needs and work could be done to help them achieve their full potential” must be urgently amplified. In fact, aside from examination provision, we find no evidence of systematic workplace adjustments, ISM mechanisms or STCW leadership competence in place to support the potential quarter of seafarers who may have been diagnosed with a neurodivergent condition, including dyslexia, autism and ADHD. In the seagoing context, we find no evidence for the report’s claim that “neurodiversity is now better supported.” This deficit is likely to result in systemic discrimination, individual breaches of disability legislation – and to lost talent and potential.
We welcome the sentiment that “There may currently be more suitable opportunities for neurodiverse and physically diverse people, due to the trend to work from home, negating the need to commute to work,” noting the potential relevance of MASS and remote technologies to seafarers with technical aptitude and strong interests. However, we note the rich neurodiversity of seafarers, and the already frequent incidence of neurodivergence. We therefore call for availability of reasonable adjustments in the existing seafaring workplace, including accessible technologies, training and Universal Design.
Neurodiversatsea therefore echoes the call for “more understanding and research about diversity and in particular, neurodiversity” and agrees with “the importance of treating people as individuals, accepting that not everyone will “fit the same mould.” We therefore invite the Commission to engage with Neurodiversatsea, and with our research.

Notes to editors

NeurodiversAtSea was established in 2022. Its founding documents and charitable purpose can be accessed below.

NeurodiversAtSea.Org founding document

Images are available on request.