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Workforce report reveals extent of investment required to secure next generation of seafarers

Workforce report reveals extent of investment required to secure next generation of seafarers

31 August 2021
Workforce report reveals extent of investment required to secure next generation of seafarers

A new Seafarer Workforce Report from BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping delivers a stark warning for shipping that, without immediate action, a shortage in ships’ officers will continue to worsen. Published this month, the report tracks supply and demand trends in seafarer employment worldwide.

The pandemic has had a profound impact on seafarers, shining a light on challenging working conditions and travel restrictions while also highlighting their critical role in the world economy. The maritime industry accounts for 90% of global trade; without seafarers, this would come to a grinding halt.

The findings will no doubt offer food for thought at Europort. According to the BIMCO/ICS report, approximately 1.89 million seafarers currently work across the global merchant fleet on board over 74,000 vessels. When compared to 2015, this is an increase of 10.8%, but there has also been an 11.8% increase in demand for officers over the same period. This translates into a current shortfall in officers 26,240, with the situation set to increase over the next five years, the report estimates.

Concerns also persist that the average age of officers is increasing, with a 2% drop in the turnover rate (to 6%) representing an upturn in the number of years being served at sea.

In better news, the report shows some movement in the gender balance and diversity in shipping, albeit from a modest starting point. There has been a 48.5% increase in the number of women seafarers since 2015, for example. However, the positive trend must be seen in the context of women still only representing 1.28% of the world’s seagoing workforce.

The BIMCO/ICS report also explores a range of seafarer training, recruitment and retention trends, and the effects they could have on the workforce. It suggests that priority should be given to making new investments in recruitment and training to address evolving skillsets as we become more digitally connected.

Embracing the Next Generation is a key theme at Europort this year, and we are calling on young professionals and next-gen talents to get involved and join the conversation. It is essential that the industry engages with the younger generation to encourage them to consider careers in the maritime sector and to help reshape the future of shipping.