Maritime Sector: On Course in a Tight Labor Market

The Maritime Sector at STC Next sets high standards for education and training. This is essential because professionals must comply with constantly changing laws and regulations, ensuring that maritime transport aligns with contemporary societal expectations. Harm Bergsma and Geert Zaadhof lead the Maritime Sector, striving to keep all professionals and their own teaching team up-to-date while maintaining an enjoyable profession. Their efforts have been successful.

STC Next keeps you growing

Over the past decades, work aboard sea vessels has undergone significant changes. However, the need for lifelong development remains constant for seafarers. “In the field of education, almost nothing stayed the same, so we adapt,” says Harm. “We offer officially recognized vocational training at all levels, along with numerous training courses. These offerings always align with educational requirements and legislation. We provide everything in the form of short, practical modules. We minimize theory to a bare minimum. Most training programs include practical components, preparing participants competently for real-world practice. This approach ensures that STC Next contributes to the growth of the maritime sector on both personal and business levels.”

International Presence

STC Next operates not only in the Netherlands but also has branches in South Africa, Oman, and Vietnam. Additionally, they collaborate with companies and governments in South America and the Far East. “They also seek us out for national and international consultancy projects,” says Harm. “For instance, we revitalized a maritime education program in Kazakhstan after they lost their mandatory IMO recognition. After the revival, they were able to continue independently. Nationally, we contribute to projects like the construction of the Nieuwe Maasvlakte. Our simulator meticulously replicates the environment: land, water, currents, wind, depth—very realistic. This allows all stakeholders to assess whether, for example, container ships will actually fit.”

Future Developments

Modern maritime demands high standards from professionals—and therefore from the teachers and trainers at STC Next. “Sustainability plays a significant role. You can no longer separate the work from the energy transition and environmental care in the broadest sense,” Geert explains. “The maritime industry must meet increasingly stringent environmental requirements, such as transitioning to alternative fuels instead of fossil fuels. Crews need training for this. There is also more focus on safety at sea, a crucial issue given the increasing global conflicts. Additionally, autonomous and semi-autonomous navigation raises questions about cybersecurity. It must be safe. Increasing automation means seafarers need more knowledge of control technology. STC Next keeps pace with these developments.”


Nowadays, there is a lot of attention for soft skills in addition to technical knowledge. “Seafarers are expected to know how to interact with each other,” says Geert. “There is hierarchy on board, but everyone is equal. You deal with various cultures and beliefs, and respectful interaction is the norm. Additionally, more women are taking on higher roles. This promotes diversity, leading to a better working environment. A positive development.”

Many Career Perspectives

Just like any other industry, the maritime sector also faces a tight labor market. Harm explains, “We see technical companies actively recruiting our engineers. It’s understandable because the prospect of being home every evening is appealing, and there’s something to gain here.” Fortunately, the outdated notion that seafarers are away from home for months no longer holds true. Geert adds, “Many seafarers choose to be home more regularly. For example, some work on a week-on, week-off basis as captains or engineers aboard harbor tugs or ferry services. The offshore industry also offers favorable leave arrangements.” Additionally, Harm suggests another alternative: becoming an instructor at STC Next. “Isn’t it fantastic to share one’s own experience with others and contribute to the future of this remarkable sector?”