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Seafarer report: shortages, restrictions and freezes shaped 2020

Spinnaker’s 7th Seafarer Wage Cost Report has been published, covering over 250,000 seafarers.

This is the most reliable crew wage cost data, thanks to information submitted from oil majors, shipowners and shipmanagers to Spinnaker’s membership body the Seafarer Employers’ Association.

Trends from the participating companies in the latest report show the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry, pay, and recruitment.

Seafarer shortage

Companies are reporting a general seafarer shortage across the board. This is reflected by comments from the International Chamber of Shipping who state:

The global demand for seafarers is estimated at 1,545,000, with the industry requiring approximately 790,500 officers and 754,500 ratings… The current supply-demand situation highlights a shortage of approximately 16,500 officers and a surplus of around 119,000 ratings.” []

Participating companies in the seafarer wage cost survey in 2020 said that Chinese ratings were a nationality that had been the most difficult to recruit, along with a general view that 2nd Engineers and Chief Officer position were also hard to find and had longer lead times to fill positions on board.

It was also noted that the seafarer shortage was most noticeable on crude and chemical tankers.

The impact of covid

Some companies expressed that, inevitably, the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on staffing, causing a temporary recruitment freeze. In contrast, Spinnaker’s shore-based recruitment business has seen recruitment continuing reasonably healthily at mid-levels of seniority and for executive and boardroom roles, albeit with very little activity for junior and entry-level staff.

Seagoing recruitment has suffered due to vessels being laid up in some sectors – and there was also the obstacle of travel restrictions impacting crew joining and leaving vessels which continues as the pandemic goes on.

Nationality snapshot

Members of the Seafarer Employers’ Association have access to a deep dive into the data, but looking at top line intel from the reports we found it interesting to see the nationality make-up of crews globally.

In a smaller analysis of some members, every company within that study said they have a mixed crew, with no single nationality ships. Ratings were mostly Filipino across the board, and Officers predominantly Indian or South European.

The full survey covered 93 nationalities in total, on 13 vessel types and 48 ranks.

The full report is available exclusively for participating members of the Seafarer Employers’ Association. If you would like to know more about joining and accessing this data, please contact Helen McCaughran at [email protected].

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