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Potential opportunities in South Korea

The South Korean government has eased rules on the E-7 visa to allow more foreign shipyard workers into the country for work

Seafarers looking to stay onshore for a while and look for opportunities on land would be happy to know that South Korea has eased their E-7 visa rules for foreign workers. This comes after the country found itself in the face of manpower scarcity for shipbuilding when it received rapid orders for new vessels from the global shipping industry.

Temporary, but not long-term
Previously, the E-7 visa had a quota of up to 600 welders and 300 painters who were allowed to work in the country. With the new demand for shipbuilding and a serious lack of skilled workers, the country decided to ease visa rules. Now, there will be about 4,428 positions available across 335 small businesses, partners of the major seven local shipbuilding and marine companies. The positions eligible for the visa are welders, painters, electrical engineers and plant engineers.

Based on data from the Korea Offshore Shipbuilding Association (KOSHIPA), shipbuilding workers have halved over the past eight years to 92,000 in 2021, down from 203,000 in 2014. Predicting the shortfall of workers, KOSHIPA mentioned that about 9,500 workers would be needed when companies begin processing their shipbuilding orders from the first half of this year.

During Singapore Maritime Week, it had been acknowledged that seafarers were still largely reluctant to return to work on vessels and industry experts have noted that there seem to be a migration of seafaring crew who are seeking jobs on shore. However, seafarers considering this option should keep in mind that this opportunity in South Korea would probably just be a temporary easing of visa rules. Once the shipbuilding orders stabilize or if global demand lowers, the quota ruling will probably return to protect local workers again.


Crewing Online Media Team
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