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Aon warns on impending manning crunch

Aon warns on impending manning crunch

London: The dwindling pool of skilled officers in the marine industry could result in increasing claims and higher premiums in the long term, according to the leading insurance broker Aon. Marine operators need to combat the skills shortfall through more effective recruitment and retention plans to ensure future officers are fully equipped to handle technological advances and new trading patterns, thus preventing claims as a result of human error. While the shipping industry continues to boom and the number of vessels is increasing year on year, employee numbers are keeping pace. Despite a surplus of ratings, there is an estimated shortage of around 10,000 officers or about 2% of the total workforce.  With a predicted shortfall of some 27,000 officers, or just fewer than 6% of the total workforce, by the year 2015, the problem could escalate to the point where shipping companies will have to face real operationaldifficulties. Furthermore, while the global shipyard order book stands at 4,942 ships with a further 796 vessels under construction, it is clear the industry is facing a major challenge. For the industry to address this issue successfully, it must combat the factors that are causing the skills shortage:
*an ageing officer population with 50% over 40 years old;
*the notion that seafaring is an unsafe line of work with
 the threat of piracy and officer kidnapping;
*the shift of labour from North America, Europe, Japan and
 other OECD countries to east Europe and Asia means that the
 lack of international experience and cultural/ language skills
 are posing serious barriers to mariners wanting to take on
 global officer roles;
*new legislation, such as the European Union's ship source
 pollution directive which criminalises negligence, is acting
 as a deterrent to those thinking of joining the industry and
 causing some to leave;
*as today's vessels become more complex and technically advanced,
 the skills and knowledge required to manage them need to grow
 accordingly.
To read about the solutions proposed for these problems readers should access Semaphore, Aon Global Marine's magazine. To obtain a copy send an e-mail to globalmarine@aon.co.uk.  [18/09/06]

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