March 11th, 2011

Latest Study shows Shortage of Seafarers Worldwide

The latest study from the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF) reported a continuing shortage of seafarers around the world.

In 2010, the worldwide supply of seafarers was estimated at around 624,000 officers while the current demand is reportedly 637,000. The result suggests a situation of approximate balance demand and supply rating with a 2% shortage overall.

But given the small percentage in shortage, the number indicates that individual shipping companies are having troubles with recruitment. Some experts suggest that the shortage can be attributed to the sharp contraction in the demand for sea transport back in 2009.

The study also presents various global supply-demand imbalance scenarios for the next decade.

Though there may be uncertainties ahead, the result also indicates that the industry will most probably face a tightening labor market. Another factor to consider in the dilemma is the recurrent shortages for officers as shipping markets are on their way to recovery.

But while there is some evidence of continuing recruitment and retention problems, these are not as severe as envisaged by the last update produced by BIMCO and ISF in 2005.

The data suggests a notable improvement in supply side numbers over the past five years, notably in China, India and the Philippines, but also in several OECD countries.

According the project’s steering committee chairman, Douglas Lang, “Supply appears likely to increase in many countries, but the positive trend that has been established for training and recruitment over the past few years must continue to be maintained to ensure a suitable future pool of qualified seafarers.”

Lang also added that unless measures are taken to ensure a continued rapid growth in qualified seafarer numbers, especially for officers or to reduce wastage from the industry, existing shortages are likely to intensify over the next decade.