UK needs more seafarers


Study predicts shortfall of people with adequate skills

An employment study by researchers at Cardiff University predicts a worrying shortfall in the number of people with adequate skills and experience to work in shore-based maritime jobs in the UK.

As a consequence, shipping companies, ports and firms such as marine insurance companies, which are keen to employ former ships' officers, could experience higher wage bills. They may even resort to employing non-seafarers leading to a degree of quality loss because, in some instances, they would be less than perfect substitutes.

The lure of higher wages in shore-based jobs may also encourage junior officers to seek onshore employment sooner in their careers. As a result, shipping companies may have less incentive to train cadets and be more likely to employ foreign officers.

The employment study was carried out by a team of researchers at Cardiff Business School, led by Professor Bernard Gardner.

He explained that the shipping industry has traditionally provided a supply of skilled labour to shore-based industries, which currently employ some 132,000 people. Many of the industries are maritime related and therefore consider it essential to employ former ships' officers.

Professor Gardner's team predicts a current annual shortfall in the supply of UK ex-seafarers to be as much as 112.

"This shortfall is cause for concern," said Professor Gardner. "The continuing demand for qualified UK seafarers means that the increasing recruitment pressure from a diminishing pool of people has implications for all who train or employ such people, whether shipping companies or shore-based employers and also for government policy."

To address the issue, the Cardiff study assesses the likely supply of ex-seafarers, and suggests how the expected shortfall might be addressed. The results of the current study are also compared with those from a previous study carried out by Cardiff Business School in 1996.

Comparisons suggest some reassessment by shore-based employers as to which jobs need filling with ex-seafarers, with some jobs downgrading seafaring experience to 'advantageous' rather than 'essential' - although such measures will not fill the shortfall completely.

Figures also suggest that the level of recruitment of cadets by the shipping industry has not been sufficient to achieve a balance between demand from shore-based industries and the supply of seafarers to meet this demand.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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