A new survey being carried out as part of the BIMCO/ICS Manpower Report 2015 is directly engaging seafarers in order to understand their views on life at sea and outlook for the industry’s manpower in the years ahead. Preliminary results of the new survey indicate that the majority of respondents are content with life at sea.
The BIMCO/ICS Manpower Report, which has been published every five years since 1990, has traditionally been based on two main quantitative data sources from which the current seafarer supply and demand situation is estimated: a questionnaire completed by shipping companies and a questionnaire completed by national maritime administrations.
In addition to those sources, the new Manpower Report will also solicit the opinions from a wider number of maritime professionals with knowledge of the ‘sharp end’ of the manpower supply situation, including seafarers, lecturers at maritime education and training (MET) institutions, manning agents, maritime unions, and port welfare workers.
The survey of seafarers is the first of the targeted surveys for this year’s report. More than 500 seafarers have already responded to the survey, representing over 40 nationalities. Some of the other preliminary findings include:
- ‘Happy ships’, timely wage payments and career promotion opportunities were the most popular responses indicated when seafarers were asked about the important factors that influenced their decisions to stay with their current employers;
- 66% of the seafarers that responded estimated that it would take them less than three months to secure another job in the industry if they chose to leave their current company; and
- Basic pay and internet access were the most popular responses provided as improvements in conditions at sea when asked about changes within the past two years.
Having provided seafarers with an opportunity to provide insight on the seafaring career, one of the trends that resonated in the responses was the importance and value of the training and skills that come with being a maritime professional: “Life at sea is exciting, challenging and very educational. The skills that anyone can receive from this job cannot be compared to anything else ashore.”
The survey also points towards the impact that increased regulation of the industry has had on the seafaring profession. One seafarer responded: “This is a great career, but an increasingly technical and administrative one so it is no longer as much an adventure as simply a job, albeit one with the possibility of adventure!”
The rich qualitative opinions that accompany the responses will supplement and augment the analysis in the final Manpower Report. In reviewing some of the preliminary results, Mr Aron Sørensen, Chief Marine Technical Officer at BIMCO, said: “This survey has provided us with insight into the views of seafarers today. Understanding the key issues for seafarers is especially valuable when attracting and recruiting talented young people to the shipping industry.”
With preparations of the Manpower Report 2015 continuing apace, Natalie Shaw, Director of Employment Affairs at ICS, said: “We have just launched a second of the new series of surveys, targeting lecturers at maritime education and training institutions. We look forward to gathering information and views from those at the forefront of maritime training which will be used to enrich the 2015 Manpower Report.”