New York, New Jersey, Vancouver, Singapore, Hamburg: cities spanning the globe, and some of the world’s most-connected cities at that. Unsurprisingly, they all have a number of other qualities in common, aside from excellent transport links and a future-proof outlook…

One of those common initiatives is Human Port Capital. Alongside the sea ports within all of the aforementioned cities, the ports of Los Angeles, Busan, Barcelona, Riga, Le Havre, Livorno and Rotterdam have joined forces to launch the initiative, along with the Human Capital Ports Action programme.

The programme itself is one of social innovation, rather than a new venture into technical upgrades or legislation agreements that is more often seen. ‘Human Capital’ refers to the measure of a worker’s skillset based on a number of factors such as knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes: it is a measure of economic value. As part of the Human Capital Ports Action programme, ports will collaborate on complex HR issues and social transition with the aim of   creating a new generation of port employees. 

But why is a focus on social innovation so important? 

As times progress and technology’s complexity accelerates, it is imperative that employees across the world are able to keep up. As Human Port Capital puts it,   Strong hands alone are not enough; smart heads are also needed.  Technology is only as good as the people working with it, and it is an essential factor that workers can access this technology and utilise it to their advantage. 

The challenges of the energy transition and digitisation can only be met if we also focus on the [sic] social transition. By working together and sharing knowledge and experience in this area with other international port authorities in the Human Port Capital initiative, we are creating a new generation of port employees. Ultimately, it’s the people who make the difference.  

Allard Castelein President & CEO, Port of Rotterdam

It is not just the port operators who are involved in the initiative: their efforts will be complemented by those of educational institutions and other relevant city authorities worldwide.

Essentially, it is a drive to keep up employment levels and productivity. A focus on education and skill sharing means that international powerhouses are all operating on the same wavelength. Greater efficiency, higher job satisfaction and a dynamic economy all result from the implementation of globally uniting standards.

It is important to stress that this initiative is not designed to replace other sustainability and digitalisation goals, but rather to complement these efforts with an equally developing and improving socio-economic state. The Port of Rotterdam, for example, has launched this programme alongside their already ongoing work on CO2 management, with over 40 projects at various stages working towards its sustainability goals. With more than 385,000 people working in and for Rotterdam’s port and industrial area, optimisation of people’s working habits and a rise in economic output would make an incredible difference.  

At its most accessible level, Human Capital should be assessed by every business. Companies around the world can begin by being more accountable for the development of their staff, and implement lifelong learning as a core business value. Investing in staff, training and developing employees and focusing on the outcomes of such investment will have an impact not only within a company itself, but on the wider-reaching economy.

Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine