By Alexandros Josephides
The Manpower Report from BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping2 (ICS) is the most comprehensive study of the shipping industry’s global workforce. Published every five years since 1990, the latest report contains detailed data analysis to show how the maritime workforce has evolved since 2010. It also forecasts likely supply and demand over the next 5 and 10 years and suggests how this balance may change using various scenarios.
The new Manpower Report includes data from 2010-2015 and, for the first time, analysis of qualitative data from maritime professionals who work at the ‘sharp end’. This includes seafarers’ unions, maritime education and training institutions and manning agents.
Launched on 16 May 2016 at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the latest five-year BIMCO/ICS Manpower Report forecasts a serious future shortage in the supply of seafarers. The report identifies:
- A current shortfall of about 16,500 officers (2.1 per cent), but
- A need for an additional 147,500 officers by 2025 to service the world merchant fleet.
The global supply of seafarers in 2015 is estimated at 1,647,500 seafarers of which 774,000 are officers. The supply of officers is forecast to increase steadily, but this is predicted to be outpaced by increasing demand. Some officer categories are in especially short supply, including engineer officers at management level and officers needed for specialised ships such as chemical, LNG and LPG carriers.
The report suggests that in the past five years the industry has made good progress with increasing recruitment and training levels and reducing officer wastage (i.e. retaining qualified seafarers and increasing the number of years which they serve at sea). But the report indicates that, unless training levels are increased significantly, the growth in demand for seafarers could generate a serious shortage in the total supply of officers.
Without continuing efforts to promote careers at sea and improve levels of recruitment and retention, the report suggests it cannot be guaranteed that there will be an abundant supply of seafarers in the future.
The Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC), the trade association of the Shipping Industry in Cyprus, has from the very beginning of its creation, recognised the importance of education, training and career prospects for young people in the maritime profession, as a factor that will further enhance the sustainability of the shipping sector in Cyprus. For this reason and having full knowledge of the shortfalls in our Industry, both locally and internationally, and as again substantiated by the BIMCO/ICS 2015 Manpower Report, the Chamber developed actions and activities to inform young people about the importance of shipping and the great prospect of a seafaring career.
With an ongoing structured educational campaign, which includes representatives of the Chamber delivering Maritime Careers to Gymnasiums and Lyceums across Cyprus, the Chamber is pleased to note that the number of young Cypriots selecting to pursue a seafaring career has increased over the last few years. According to statistics, since 2000 more than 300 young Cypriots entered the Greek Merchant Marine Academies, 220 of them since 2009. Studies at the Marine Academies to become a ship’s officer, require 3 years academic study and one year practical training onboard a ship.
A seafaring career as a Deck or Engineer Officer onboard a merchant ship, offers immediate and secure employment prospects and excellent opportunities for a career path both onboard and ashore.
(*) CSC Marine Manager/Deputy Director General and IMO Maritime Ambassador for Cyprus