Shipowners and operators should keep its eyes for a heightened crew demand
China has officially topped the scoreboard for its newbuilding orders. As ominous as it may be, when paired with persistent border restrictions impaling crew change, the answer is an increased demand for seafarers. In essence, manpower shortage is almost a guarantee this year.
Breaking it down
The statistics from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s Review of Maritime Transport 2021 may be about to be contrasted with manpower movements this year. The report revealed the Philippines was the top provider of both seafarers and officers, Indonesia took third place for ratings and fifth for officers, China was third for officers and fourth for ratings, and India was fourth for officers and fifth for ratings. The Russian Federation was the other country in the top five list.
On the other end of this is China’s the “zero-COVID” policy, which banned most foreigners from entering the country, resulting in a shortage of immediate seafarers of any nationality to take over newbuilds and resume voyages. That essentially left shipowners and operators with no choice but to make do with the manpower (Chinese crew) they have – even if that means a wage hike.
China Maritime Safety Administration’s data revealed local seafarers serving on international vessels had reached record numbers in the first year of the pandemic and at the end of 2020, there were some 17,175 newly registered seafarers serving on international vessels bringing the total to 122,034. A media quoted industry executives that wages for Chinese seafarers have tripled, and ranged between US$1,800 – US$2,500 per month for AB ratings, and US$6,000 and above for junior officers.
Despite that, there are still observers who believe it has peaked in its bell curve and wages may soften when shipowners and operators turn to other nationalities to make up for the manpower shortfall. This is only in the event China eases up on its restrictions. Combine that with the newbuildings from Korea and Japan, the demand for seafarers may shift away from China due to new technologies, thus increasing crew’s market values.
Crewing Online News Team
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