Global Shortage of Seafarers and Officers Expected to Persist: Drewry Report

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Drewry has issued a warning that the supply of officers and seafarers for ships is becoming increasingly constrained, with little sign of improvement in the coming years. The maritime consultancy’s Manning Annual Review and Forecast reports that the world’s shipping industry is reaching record-high shortfalls, which will have long-term impacts. Drewry estimates that the shortfall for officers has almost doubled from around 5% to 9% of the global pool in the last year. This is the highest level seen by the consultancy in 17 years.

Several factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, are cited as contributing to the expanding shortfall of seafarers and officers. Drewry notes that whilst seafarers are no longer ‘stuck’ on board vessels due to the pandemic, residual psychological effects on the labor market continue. The war in Ukraine may also be reducing recruitment figures, with several crews returning home or joining the military.

According to Drewry, the rising shortage of seafarers and officers has significant implications for shipping companies with regard to recruitment, retention, and manning costs. The consultancy highlights the importance of well-being and a supportive work environment in retaining maritime personnel. Drewry forecasts that officer availability will be a particular challenge for the next few years, with a shortage projected to continue until at least 2028, based on the limited numbers of new seafarers entering the market. As a result, the report predicts that employers will seek alternative sources of supply to plug the gap, leading to an acceleration of wage costs across a range of vessel types.

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