The root of labour shortage in seafaring is man-made
Shipping consultant Drewry warned about a possible officer shortage for the world’s commercial fleet in the coming years. Naturally, it would create a flurry of apprehension amongst manning agencies and ship managers concerning costs. However, is it really the case?
Recognise the man-made issues
Labour shortage has been loosely taken at face value. Crew change was the most popular reason in 2020, it is now accessorised by vaccine shortage and stricter border restrictions. All these factors are deemed the causes of seafaring’s tarnished reputation. Drewy added in their forecast the diminishing attractiveness of a career at sea, coupled with rising man-berth ratios and continued fleet growth is likely to result in the highest shortfall of officers in over a decade by 2026.
The consultant identified diminished attractiveness of sea career is the principal reason for declining manpower. It anticipated a 5 per cent deficit between supply and demand gap in 2026. Drewy’s report estimated five years leading to 2016, the supply of seafarers available to crew the global merchant fleet grew at an average annual rate of 2.7 per cent. However, growth over the last five years reduced to just 0.5 per cent annually.
Indeed, the pandemic played a big part in contributing to the crew change crisis. The blatant omission was the responses from all players – shipowners, operators, and even manning agencies. COVID-19’s role as a scapegoat should have run its course. Unfortunately, substantial attention remains on the severity of the virus, branching out even to the new variants threatening to uproot the efficacies of current available vaccines.
All the talk about seafarers being short-changed for wages, benefits and safety are man-made which can be addressed. There are hundreds of seafarers waiting to have their time onboard – some are fresh graduates ready to explore their paths at sea. A high population has been using maritime job portals to search for employment. Marine Online and Crewing Online are some of them. Such clearly contradicts the hypothesis of seafaring as a career has lost its attractiveness.
Crewing Online News Team
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