March 25th, 2011

Filipino Seafarers can be the answer for Global Maritime Needs

There is a big gap to fill in the global shortage of qualified seafarers and Filipinos are being tapped to fill in the vacancies.

According to the President of the Philippine-Norway Business Council, Stein Eriksen, there is a bigger opportunity for qualified Filipino seafarers as the world’s shipping industry is facing a looming global shortage.

He said over 90 percent of goods transported worldwide are on board vessels of any kind and the demand continues to increase every year. An estimated 1.3 million seafarers are currently sailing across the seas undertaking the task of transporting these goods.

“Imagine the world without shipping and seafarers,” Eriksen said, as he emphasized that there is a current shortage of 50,000 qualified seafarers worldwide. The number is also expected to double by 2015.

Eriksen noted that the Philippines is the leading supplier of seafarers. Of the estimated 1.3 million seafarers in the world, Filipinos account for more than 350,000. Currently, there are also approximately 20,000 Filipinos on board Norwegian-owned ships.

He said of the estimated 1.3 million seafarers, 350,000 are Filipinos and of this number, around 5,000 to 6,000 are active sailing officers. However, he added that there is a need to increase the number of officers in the next years.

The president of the Philippine-Norway Business council pointed out that even during the period when some 30 percent of total vessels worldwide were not sailing, there was a shortage from 27,000 to 30,000 qualified maritime officers.

Eriksen also stressed that the biggest shipping organization of cargo owners in the world, the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO indicated an “increased shortage of seafarers in the next years until 2015.” Even in the next three years where there will be an estimated 8,000 ships to be built, there would still be at least 80,000 job opening for seafarers.  

Eriksen also challenged Philippine maritime schools to raise its academic standards for its graduates to be highly qualified in the international shipping industry.

He noted that there are 95 maritime schools taking in some 60,000 to 65,000 students but only 5,000 of these maritime students who enroll annually are qualified to work in international ships and become officers.

“There are many seafarers. What the industry needs are qualified seafarers,” Eriksen stressed.