Global shortage of maritime officers predicted

International shipping is reeling

The increasingly severe shortage of seafarers and its future impact on the global maritime industry will be addressed at an international seminar at the headquarters of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London on 11 May.

Co-hosted by The Nippon Foundation and the Japan International Transport Institute (JITI), the seminar, entitled ‘Problem of the Global Shortage of Seafarers and the Role of the Shipping Industry through CSR Activities’, is supported by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan, and the Round Table of the International Shipping Association.

At the seminar, which will feature presentations from specialists from the maritime industry, academic community and governments around the world, The Nippon Foundation and JITI will present the results of their recent study on the future global supply and demand for seafarers, following the work of a high level steering committee.

‘There is now worldwide concern that the rapid growth of the maritime industry has outstripped the number of available high calibre young seafarers, said a spokesperson from The Nippon Foundation. ‘The study indicates how changes in the world economy might influence the maritime industry in the future, along with possible measures to secure the required workforce.’

Since the influential BIMCO / ISF Manpower Update 2005 forecast a shortage of 27,000 maritime officers worldwide by 2015, other factors have contributed to the problem, including the increase in the number of ships needed to handle the expanding global cargo for emerging economies, such as China and India. At the same time there has been the fallout from the global economic crisis, leading to the cancellation of shipbuilding contracts and the acceleration of ship scrapping, which is likely to affect the mechanisms of supply and demand.

In response, the IMO launched its ‘Go to Sea!’ campaign in 2008, in cooperation with key maritime stakeholders, only to find that fewer young people were attracted to the seafaring profession, while young seafarers prefer to move to land based jobs.

The seminar will be addressed by Mr Efthimos Mitropoulos, Secretary General of IMO, while other speakers include Noriel P Devanadera, Philippines government spokesman on Maritime and Manpower Development, Spyros Polemis, President of the International Shipping Federation and Dr Robert C Beckman of the National University of Singapore. It will be held the day before the 87th session of the Maritime Safety Committee at the IMO.