The latest Bimco/ICS Manpower Report contains the interesting nugget that “China is thought to have overtaken the Philippines as the largest single source of seafarers qualified for international trade.”
However, two important qualifiers were added by the Report, a number-crunching exercise carried out jointly every five years by shipping bodies Bimco and the International Chamber of Shipping – which for the first time this year also included ‘qualitative data’ in the form of feedback from professionals working at the ‘sharp end’ of seafarer recruitment.
Firstly, the Philippines continues to be the largest source of ratings or non-officer Able Seafarers, the report pointed out.
And secondly, “data from international shipping companies suggests that the extent to which Chinese seafarers are available for international service may be more limited”, it added, with the Philippines and Russia seen as at least equally important sources as China for officers, followed closely by Ukraine and India.
In total the report identified a current shortfall of about 16,500 officers (2.1%), and estimates a need for an additional 147,500 officers by 2025 to service the world fleet.
By contrast there is a current surplus of about 119,000 ratings (15.8%), with demand only having increased by about 1% since 2010, found the report.
Bimco CEO Angus Frew commented, “Bimco and ICS have once again collaborated closely to produce valuable in-depth analysis of maritime manpower trends. The industry can put this report to good use by ensuring we can continue to operate the world merchant fleet with sufficient numbers of qualified and competent seafarers.”
ICS secretary general Peter Hinchliffe warned: “Without continuing efforts to promote careers at sea and improve levels of recruitment and retention, the report suggests it cannot be guaranteed that there will be an abundant supply of seafarers in the future.”
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