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Calls to improve workplace support for neurodivergent seafarers

15 May 2024

Neurodivergent seafarers have called for more education and awareness support for those in maritime careers during training, certification, jobseeking,and onboard, following the publication of a new report showing employers are failing neurodivergent employees.

The second Neurodiversity Index Report by London's City and Guilds Foundation also makes recommendations for organisations to foster an inclusive environment.

Daniel Smith, founder and chair of, an organisation which champions neurodivergence within the maritime industry, said the findings of the C&G NDI report 'closely resonate with our own research, experiences, and feedback from neurodivergent seafarers.'

For instance, the report highlights that less than half of neurodivergent individuals reported positive outcomes after disclosing their condition. 'Shockingly, our data indicates an even bleaker scenario among British seafarers, with only 23% of respondents to our survey disclosing their condition to their employer.'

Mr Smith said another concerning revelation from the C&G NDI report is that less than half of employers have implemented neuroinclusion strategies.

'Our experiences and feedback from seafarers suggest that this situation may be even worse within the maritime industry,' commented Mr Smith. 'I'm also concerned about the reported reduction in "buddying schemes" in the C&G NDI report. Such schemes are vital for neurodivergent employees as they form part of their support structure. Any reduction, especially the 5% reported, is likely to have a significant impact.

While the root causes of many of these issues are complex, Mr Smith said it basically pointed to a need for more education and awareness.

'We must do more to demonstrate to employers the benefits of neurodiversity and the importance of inclusivity. Employers should also ensure that employees are aware of and comfortable using support systems in place, particularly for personalized assistance and workplace adjustments.

'It is imperative that we better support neurodivergent seafarers at every level, whether during the examination and certification process, job seeking, training, or on the job. Failure to do so will leave us trailing not only other industries but also the rest of the world.'

Nautilus members threw their weight behind support for neurodivergent shipmates at the Union's 2023 General Meeting. The motion Support for Neurodivergent Seafarers  noted the positives that neurodivergent crew members can bring to a vessel, including excellence in innovation and safety management. Following a majority vote in support of the motion, the document has now become a resolution committing Nautilus to doing all it can to make the maritime workplace more welcoming to neurodiverse seafarers.


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