Graduate attributes are high-level qualities and understanding expected to be possessed by a graduate. These attributes allow the graduates to be explicit from others without the degree and is a benefit that they can enjoy and contribute to employers and society (Oliver et al., 2018). Such attributes equip graduate students with personal development to be successful members of society. Graduate attributes are viewed as dependent on discipline knowledge. IMCO adopts its student attributes from the Oman Quality Framework guidelines. The IMCO attribute is divided into two sections to help the nautical students integrate into the workforce immediately after graduation. While the practical hands-on approach is still helpful in the maritime industry, tertiary education that emphasizes analytical and soft skills such as communication, knowledge, autonomy, and responsibility is an overemphasis in the modern age.
Communication, Numeracy information, and Communication Technology Skills
Nautical studies students are expected to develop a core group of communication and mathematical attributes as part of their learning while at IMCO. Effective communication, interpersonal skills, and mathematical aptitude are associated with successful performance (Oliver et al., 2018). The changing global surrounding has increased emphasis on soft skills for the maritime industry. The industry continues to transform from the convectional unskilled labour (highly practical hands-on approach) to a sophisticated tertiary education emphasizing analytical and soft skills. As a deck officer, one is expected to navigate, manoeuvre, and operate ships. Graduates must convey information effectively to various audiences and contribute positively and collaboratively to attain a common objective (Chala et al., 2021). Ship operations are sensitive and require the assigned deck officer to communicate any concerns. Otherwise, a minor miscommunication may have detrimental effects.
Additionally, to improve the safety and efficiency of the marine industry’s protection of the sea and marine environment, it is inevitable that the nautical students use modern information and communication technology. The deck officer is often required to collect, store, process, present, and distribute relevant data and information to the participants of the maritime transport (Oliver et al., 2018). Communication technology skills are necessary to meet the rising customer expectation and competitive edge. Deck officers can enhance port operations by shifting to a paperless environment and offering valuable and relevant solutions, completely restructuring port members’ manual document exchange process. A nautical student will effectively integrate automation skills to optimize the port management processes by decreasing the cargo and vessel turnaround time and providing real-time data for yard operations.
Employers require maritime officers to have mathematical attributes. Most studies draw heavily on math regardless of the training as a deck, engineer, or ETO officer (IMCO, 2018). A good education package for nautical studies involves selecting mathematical computing, skills, engineering and other professional input. The student needs sufficient and broad theoretical education and operation skills in applied mathematics to tackle the challenging tasks and develop questions in the modern industry (Oraison et al., 2019). In reality, the maritime industry is teamwork-oriented, and success arises when the specialists can join their expertise and vision in a synergetic manner, communicate effectively, and utilize modern communication technology to attain desired results.
Additionally, as indicated by the IMCO graduate requirement, graduates must possess a high level of specialized knowledge underpinned in the theories and principles of maritime studies (IMCO, 2018). Knowledge is a primary concern for hiring employers to ensure the right person for the job. Graduates must have comprehensive knowledge of their subject areas, the capacity to engage with various convectional thoughts, and knowledge application. Deck officers’ responsibilities require thorough education and training in navigation, manoeuvring, and ship operation. Ship operations include safety measures such as firefighting, cargo handling, ship stability, environmental and quality issues (IMCO, 2018). The new entrance has to be educated and trained to the industry-accepted levels. The professionals in the field must have their knowledge updated with changing times, skills, and innovation. As a result of a steady evolutionary process over the years, the industry’s success relies majorly on human resources. Hence, even the best designed and equipped ship is sub-standard if the professionals are unknowledgeable, under-trained, poorly accommodated, and overworked.
While marine transport has improved with state-of-art technology, the future of shipping is heavily reliant on the quality and expertise of the individuals handling the technology. Nautical students must effectively define their discipline’s core skills and concepts, identify key questions, research, and search evidence-based arguments (Oliver et al., 2018). Furthermore, the students need to comprehend how the knowledge is constructed and apply it to issues that seek positive and sustainable solutions. While the maritime industry shares many similarities with other industries, it is unique in many ways, and hence its education and training are integral aspects of its success. Unlike other industries, the recursions of deviation by the human resource from the knowledge principals have mar and disastrous consequences.
Autonomy and Responsibility
While teamwork is an essential skill, working alone and taking responsibility for the individual workload is supreme. Such capacity gives the employer confidence in the employees’ ability without constant monitoring (Oraison et al., 2019). Employees must take responsibility for their behaviour, learning, and well-being. The subcritical point of being an independent nautical student requires that one acquire the capability to think and act independently of peers, tutors, or employers. The graduate must develop critical and creative thinking with an aptitude for self-directed learning (Chala et al., 2021). Additionally, graduates should independently evaluate knowledge across various disciplines, initiate changes, and be aware of personal strengths and limitations.
The autonomy and responsibility attribute is a primary necessity for deck officers. Often, deck employees are responsible as an officer in charge of various elements and must execute their role under no or minimal supervision. The officer must prioritize and manage commitments to deliver projects. Furthermore, the officers must act honestly and ethically based on a solid sense of personal value and consideration of the impact of their actions (Oraison et al., 2019). The deck officers must adapt positively and accept transformation through learning when confronted with challenges.
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An essential aspect of tertiary education workforce preparation is graduate attributes. By developing graduate attributes, students will become competent to be reliable, serve the community, and initiate changes for the community’s benefit. The IMCO student handbook indicates that communication, numeracy, information and communication technology skills, knowledge, autonomy, and responsibility are essential attributes for successful nautical studies students. Students face the challenges of a rapid digital revolution transforming the maritime industry from convectional largely unskilled labour to capital intensive, relying on interpersonal skills. Under these attributes, graduate students will be equipped to contribute significantly to contemporary challenges.
IMCO. (2018). Student Handbook-Under Graduates, IMCO Academic Year 2017-2018. Imco.edu.om. Retrieved 22 March 2022,
Oliver, B., & Jorre de St Jorre, T. (2018). Graduate attributes for 2020 and beyond: Recommendations for Australian higher education providers. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(4), 821-836.
Oraison, H., Konjarski, L., & Howe, S. (2019). Does university prepare students for employment?: Alignment between graduate attributes, accreditation requirements and industry employability criteria. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability
Chala, F. M., & Bouranta, N. (2021). Soft Skills Enhance Employee Contextual Performance: The Case of the Maritime Industry. KnE Social Sciences, 126-138.