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            october 18, 2019

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Worldwide Supply and Demand for Seafarers


BIMCO and the International Shipping Federation (ISF) have published the results of their latest comprehensive study of the worldwide supply and demand for seafarers, presenting their conclusions, on 30 November, to governments attending the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in London. 
The worldwide supply of seafarers in 2010 is estimated to be 624,000 officers and 747,000 ratings, while the current worldwide demand for seafarers is 637,000 officers and 747,000 ratings.
The Chairman of the project’s Steering Committee, Douglas Lang of Anglo Eastern, explained:
“Our results suggest a situation of approximate balance between demand and supply for ratings, with a modest overall shortage of officers of about 2%.  This does not, of course, mean that individual shipping companies are not experiencing serious recruitment problems, but simply that overall supply and demand are currently more or less in balance.  This is perhaps not surprising given the sharp contraction in the demand for sea transport in 2009 combined with significant growth in total seafarer numbers.”
The BIMCO/ISF study highlights that shortages are more acute in specialised sectors such as tankers and offshore support vessels.  With regard to certain nationalities, there is an underlying concern about the current and future availability of senior officers.  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.  Encouragingly, the data suggests a notable improvement in supply side numbers over the past 5 years, notably in China, India and the Philippines, but also in several OECD countries.
The 2010 Update also presents various global supply/demand balance scenarios for the next decade.
Mr Lang remarked:
“There are many uncertainties, but our results indicate that the industry will most probably face a tightening labour market, with recurrent shortages for officers, particularly as shipping markets recover.   Unless measures are taken to ensure a continued rapid growth in qualified seafarer numbers, especially for officers, and/or to reduce wastage from the industry, existing shortages are likely to intensify over the next decade.  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.”
The 2010 Update is based on data collected from questionnaires sent to governments, shipping companies and crewing experts.  It also incorporates the views and perceptions of senior executives in shipping companies and maritime administrations, and detailed statistical analysis provided by the Warwick Institute for Employment Research.  Importantly, for the first time, the study has been assisted by Dalian Maritime University which has helped obtain input from Asian countries where it had previously been difficult to obtain definitive data. 
The full report on the BIMCO/ISF 2010 Update on the Worldwide Demand Supply of and Demand for Seafarers will be available in December from BIMCO and ISF.

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