Officer training and recruitment levels must “significantly increase” to avoid a serious shortfall by 2026, the global shipping industry has been warned by its two top representative bodies – the International Chamber of Shipping and Bimco.
The is a growing demand for STCW-certified officers, the bodies say in their new “Seafarer Workforce Report“, which predicts that there will be a need for an additional 89,510 officers by 2026 to operate the world’s merchant fleet. About 1.89 million seafarers crew the existing fleet of approximately 74,000 vessels around the globe.
Today, there is a current shortfall of approximately 26,200 STCW certified officers, indicating that demand for seafarers has outpaced supply even though there has been a 10.8% increase in the supply of officers since 2015.
“This shortfall could be due to a reported increase in officers needed on board vessels, with an average of 1.4 officers required per berth,” the ICS and Bimco say in a joint statement.
However, in the last five years, the shipping industry has made progress in reducing officer turnover rates from 8% to 6%, retaining qualified seafarers and increasing the number of years that they serve at sea.
Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping said: “to meet the future demand for seafarers it is vital that the industry actively promotes careers at sea and enhances maritime education and training worldwide, with a focus on the diverse skills needed for a greener and more digitally connected industry. This is especially important as we recover from the effects of the pandemic, and we will need to address the real concerns that we could see seafarers turning away from careers in shipping”.
The report also shows that there has been an increase in the numbers of female seafarers. The latest statistics show that there is a positive trend in gender balance, with an estimated 24,059 women serving as seafarers, a percentage increase of 45.8% compared with the 2015 report. The percentage of female STCW certified seafarers is estimated to be 1.28% of the global seafarer workforce and it appears that there has been a significant rise in the number of female STCW certified ratings compared to STCW certified female officers, with female ratings found predominantly in the cruise ship and passenger ferry sectors. Female officer numbers are spread more evenly across the sectors.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for merchant shipowners and operators, representing all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet. BIMCO is the world’s largest international shipping association, with around 1,900 members in more than 120 countries, representing 59% of the world’s tonnage. Its global membership includes shipowners, operators, managers, brokers and agents.