2020: impacts on the maritime industry

Phil Parry

“2020 has undoubtedly been a year of uncertainty for us all – the coronavirus has had a massive impact on the market, and we have seen the sharpest economic trade decline in over 35 years. The impact on the different shipping sectors has varied, but the general outlook remains uncertain and many in the industry are firefighting and keeping very tight control of costs.” – Phil Parry, Chairman, Spinnaker

Spinnaker published the 2020 salary benchmarking findings for shore-based roles last October, and now Spinnaker’s Maritime HR Association team have turned their attention to their more in-depth market analysis. Chairman Phil Parry has compiled a foreword to the job family specific reports, providing an economic overview of the general shipping market – with special thanks to Stephen Gordon at Clarksons Research for his valuable insights. Considering pay and people impacts, environmental regulations, financing and the Covid-19 economy, key points from this report include:

  • Prior to the pandemic, average forecasts for world economic growth (GDP) were at just over 3%. Those forecasts have steadily declined and bottomed out at around -5%. In China specifically, where growth was forecast at 6%, the expectation is for less than 2% growth going forward. And in terms of world seaborne trade, 2021 is looking like a year of zero growth.
  • In March, April and May queues into ports caused massive congestion and delays and consequential costs and legal disputes. Crew changes have of course been very difficult this year; in addition to the social and welfare costs to seafarers and their families, on-boarding costs have increased three-fold in some cases with flights home increasing by nearly 50% alone.  
  • Covid-19 aside, the megatrend that is impacting the industry is rapid decarbonisation to meet the 50% target reduction in total annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. According to the IMO, this equates to approximately 85% CO2 reduction per ship.
  • The financial landscape is changing with it. The introduction of the Poseidon Principles is helping to align ship finance with society’s decarbonisation goals and, quite separately, the source of capital and styles of lending (leasing deals vs traditional mortgage lending) are vastly different from the pre-recession landscape.
  • The offshore wind sector continues to grow at more than 24% per year, providing potential opportunities for wider maritime industries. Other good news (it’s all relative!) is that compared with other forms of transportation, deep sea cargo shipping suffered a drop in activity (measured by the number of port calls) of “only” 10% in 2020.  This is compared to air cargo which fell by a third, while sadly we saw cruise and passenger shipping disappearing almost entirely.

If you would like more information on which to base your people decisions for the year(s) ahead through receipt of this members-only report – please get in touch by emailing the benchmarking team via [email protected].

Maritime UK launches diversity interview pool


Diversity and Inclusion is critical to business because it encourages success.  When success can be achieved by all, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, people perform better – and that means the business performs better.  Diverse organisations outperform their competitors.

We know that creating gender balanced interview panels can be challenging. What if you don’t have a female available to conduct your interviews? What if you don’t even have a female in your business? Or worse still, what if you don’t do anything about this? 

The Interview Pool is here to assist organisations access other women in the sector to help with your recruitment, enabling gender balanced interview panels to be created.

Why use the Interview Pool?

  • To balance your interview panel.
  • To overcome the pitfalls of all male interview panels, which can create a barrier to new entrants and succumb to bias, both conscious and unconscious.

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive, The British Ports Association

“It was invaluable to have an outside view feeding into our advertising and recruitment decisions and also a great help in terms of running a process which, because of our size, is something we rarely undertake.”

Why volunteer in the Interview Pool? 

  • Access, network and support other women in the sector. 
  • Share your skills, learn and follow best practice – you do not need to have extensive interviewing or recruiting experience. Use this as an opportunity to develop a new skill.
  • Supporting the success of your sector – helping other businesses in your supply chain – ensuring the best talent is in the maritime sector. 
  • Corporate Social Responsibility – In kind, through gifting your time.
  • Your profile will appear on the dedicated Interview Pool Volunteer page


  • Pairing of volunteer interviewers and organisations through Maritime UK. 
  • Previous interviewing experience not required.  
  • ‘The deal’ – All of the detail has been taken care of. Participating companies/individuals will receive an Interview Pool pack including a confidentiality clause, privacy notice to applicants and guidance notes. 

Find out more here.