Officer supply shortages in the shipping industry have reached a record high, warns Drewry’s Manning Annual Review and Forecast report. The report highlights a growing deficit in officer availability, which was around 5% last year but now stands at 9%. These figures are based on assumptions and ship counts, and they suggest that the labor market for seafarers is becoming increasingly tight. The report cites the impact of COVID-19, which has made crew training difficult, and the war between Russia and Ukraine, which has resulted in experienced crews leaving the shipping industry to join the military.
According to Drewry, the shortage of seafarers will drive up staff costs, with employers looking for alternative sources of supply to fill the gap. This supply crunch will also cause wage rates to rise across the board, affecting vessel types that have so far remained stable. The consultancy firm observes that the wellbeing of employees is now a priority for recruitment and retention. Factors like good communication channels with families, comfortable onboard facilities and a supportive work environment are becoming increasingly important.
Drewry’s Manning Annual Review and Forecast report acknowledges that the growth of the global deepwater vessel fleet will make the shortage of seafarers even more challenging. The report highlights the need to look beyond wage rates and adopt measures to retain crewmembers in a competitive environment. While the seafarer shortage is a serious concern for the shipping industry, Drewry believes employers can mitigate these issues by prioritizing employee wellbeing and adopting innovative strategies, including sourcing alternative supplies. However, for now, the situation remains precarious, and the shipping industry must brace for a possible increase in staff costs and wage rate volatility.
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