Port labour in the era of automation and digitalization. What’s next?

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The maritime and port industry experiences significant changes due to technological, operational and organizational developments. The paper investigates current and future challenges for port labour in the light of the main trends shaping the port competitive environment. In this perspective, the evolution of port labour is argued to be driven by technology related factor, i.e., digitalization and automation. Digitalization can increase port efficiency through improved port operations due to process standardization, increasing quality in port services and effective strategic planning. These trends are shaping a new framework creating new challenges and threats for port labour, given the increasing demand for new jobs focusing on high-skilled personnel. The paper demonstrates that, the expected transition “from strength to skill”, will require new capabilities for workers, and consequently specific training schemes and certifications. The paper contributes on the ongoing debate on the challenges and the opportunities that technology brings into the port industry.