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Shipping facing a more serious shortage of senior officers than it expects

Shipping facing a more serious shortage of senior officers than it expects
Shipping faces a more serious shortage in senior officers in the future than it is prepared for warns Mark Charman, ceo of Faststream Recruitment Group.

In an interview with Seatrade Maritime News Charman says that they were already seeing shortages of senior officers in certain areas such as gas shipping. “I think we are at the beginning of the cycle with organisations struggling to find the officers they need for their ships,” he says.

The latest Bimco/ICS Manpower Report published in 2016 identified an existing shortfall of about 16,500 officers (2.1%), and estimates a need for an additional 147,500 officers by 2025 to service the world fleet.

“I truly believe going forward shipping will face problem beyond what it expects in the recruitment of officers,” Charman states.

Specialising in shipping and offshore Faststream is involved in the recruitment of officers to ships, but not crewing or crew management.

“We’re starting to see more skill shortages for senior officers with gas experience. All these gas ships that have been built and have come into service the supply of officers with good gas experience and meet the requirements of the various matrix are few and far between of all nationalities and that is going to get harder,” he explains.

Charman believes that shipping has benefitted from the sharp downturn in the offshore sector where large numbers of vessels laid-up leaving senior officers to seek work in other sectors such as tanker and cruise shipping. However, he believes once the offshore sector rebounds seafarers with qualifications as DP2 training will chose to return to offshore.

“When the offshore sector picks-up they’ll be gone. And they’ll be gone because the offshore sector pays way more than conventional deepsea shipping and the rotations in offshore are much shorter. It’s a way better lifestyle for the officers,” he says.

Shorter rotations is something that Charman believes deepsea shipping will need to offer if it is to appeal to the Millennial generation. A survey by Faststream of around 1,000 seafarers in the gas shipping sector found that the most important factors in choosing an employer, in order, were – money, rotations, onboard communications such as wi-fi access, and new vessels.

The survey also found that 55% of junior officers thought that promotions were too slow. Charman noted the Millennial generation were not used to waiting, and wanted things now and would not wait for promotions.

As to how the industry should tackle the issues it faces in the future he said it needed to understand it was cheaper to retain people than replace them. “The industry needs to move from away this distressed purchase, just in time, hiring, to a talent pipeline.”