The international shipping industry is one of the few industries which can be said to have a genuine influence on our daily lives, not that most would know it. The image that the general public have of the industry is often one of poor safety and huge environmental disasters, as seen in the media. Many within the shipping industry accept that the public awareness of it is low and generally negative, but there has been little attempt to quantify this or identify its causes. There is wide speculation that the poor image of shipping, coupled with the generally negative press coverage it receives, are significant factors leading to low uptake of careers within the industry, particularly those with specialist skills such as engineering. Southampton Solent University is funding vital research to examine ‘sea blindness’, the lack of public awareness surrounding the shipping industry and plug a perceived skills gap.  The research initially aims to establish the extent of sea blindness and generate valuable baseline data that can be used to inform the development of a range of tools to raise public awareness about the industry.

The research will:

  • Provide understanding of the extent of public awareness of the shipping industry.
  • Examine the barriers to entry into the industry.
  • Help to make maritime careers a more attractive to young people.

This study forms the first part of a four phase programme which will research and document the issues associated with the low profile of the shipping industry. The research will itself raise awareness of the shipping industry through the implementation of a comprehensive media strategy.

In support of this research the SSI collaborates with SSU as part of its work on social sustainability. To find out more about the Shipping Awareness Project, please visit