Any maritime business relies on its workforce to innovate and adapt, often in tough and changing market conditions. In fact, people are the most important assets in the maritime sector and organisations must invest in bridging the talent gap or risk losing out to competitors, especially as there is a shortage of suitably qualified and experienced seafarers, onshore staff and shipyard workers worldwide. The pressure is on for organisations to find new ways to recruit their workforces and retain their valuable human capital assets, while also preparing for the changing experiences, expectations and aspirations of generations to come. The human resources (HR) function in the maritime industry, in common with all global industries, has evolved significantly over the past couple of decades. HR departments have succeeded the ‘personnel department’ to offer greater interaction between employer and employee. Employee engagement now extends far beyond mundane matters like payroll deductions, vacation policies, sick days and retirement plans, to include consultation on resource management, opportunities for training and on continuous career development. Organisations that are progressive in their approach to HR make this vital business lifeline fully integrated in the overall organisation. As the beating heart in any business, the HR department now takes a leading role in recruitment and hiring, training and professional development, performance reviews and assessments, workplace wellness, and even in the defining and disseminating of corporate culture. As new technology comes into the industry, traditional roles will become more knowledge intensive and staff will require different skills sets to their predecessors. There is a growing consensus that as ships are becoming more complex, with the drive to increase operational efficiency, modern day seafarers and workers in shipyards will need ever greater technical abilities. In the maritime organisation of today, the HR department must recognise that new generations of employees see digital solutions as the starting point for engagement with training, internal bulletins and professional development. Digital transformation is already driving many of the changes in HR, but future-proof strategies require significant development. The Human Factor is a key theme of Europort 2017, which will stage the Masterclass ‘How HR can make your organization future proof’ to offer a refreshing view on HR on Friday November 10 . Expert speakers will explore how a new perspective on HR can be beneficial in making organizations future-proof and help them to reach their business targets. Alongside the Masterclass, the final day of the exhibition at Europort 2017 is designated as 'Human Capital Day’. Watch out for several themed events that are sure to bring an uplifting end to the show. See the full programme. Raymond Silakus is Exhibition Manager at Europort.