Getting Fired Up!

ashes to flames

At this year’s Maritime People & Culture conference we are looking firmly at the horizon with our must-see keynote, futurist K D Adamson whose keynotes are described as a ‘TED-talk on steroids’.

The 2022 Spinnaker Maritime People and Culture Conference is now only a couple of weeks away and as the programme reflects, the industry finds itself facing a growing set of future challenges.

So, who better to invite to be our keynote speaker and special guest for the conference than K D Adamson, one of the world’s leading futurists and definitely shipping’s most famous, whose keynotes have been likened to ‘a TED-talk on steroids’.

But while as a futurist K D is expert in all sorts of technologies from AI to synthetic biology to quantum computing, don’t expect reassurance that the tech industry will ride to the world’s rescue, or solve the challenges faced by our businesses.

The message of K D’s keynote, The Ashes and the Flame is very different. Challenging the technology-defined future that the ‘Tomorrow Factory’, has been selling everyone, she argues that what comes next is not an AI apocalypse but a societal discontinuity. She describes the period the world is entering now as a liminal space, a threshold of the future where old certainties have been dismantled but what will replace them is still uncertain.

Pointing out that during liminal periods individuals and organisations have outsized opportunities to create truly lasting change, she encourages us to reframe the challenges ahead as societies and businesses and reject the technology narrative that disempowers individuals and companies, by de-emphasising human qualities of resilience and adaptability.

At a conference for people-people it’s a message that some might consider to be long overdue. After two years struggling to support our people at sea and ashore when many industry structures failed us and with critical industry-wide and global goals still ahead to be tackled, the importance of maritime HR, people, culture and mindset cannot be overstated.

Fire may have been the first technology, but K D Adamson says that the time has come to stop worshipping it and the tech industry that has hi-jacked the future. Instead, she warns that the only way to build the future we want is to focus on the core priorities of culture, human autonomy, purpose, and adaptability, to create ecocratic not technocratic leaders and to embark on a fundamental recalibration of what we value.

Sure to be delivered with her signature energy and dynamism, The Ashes and the Flame is a must-see keynote, and will be followed by an in-depth session with Spinnaker Chairman Phil Parry, where he will also be posing some burning questions.

The conference takes place on Thursday 26th & Friday 27th May in the City of London, so follow this link now to view the full agenda and book tickets.

In the run up to the event please also look out for a series of video Q&A’s with K D such as this one here.

2021 shore-based salary data now available

salary, coins, money, pay

The annual salary reports produced by Spinnaker’s Maritime HR Association for shore-based shipping jobs have now been released with 2021 data.

In 2021, 78 maritime companies participated in the survey, providing data for more than 32,000 maritime industry professionals in 101 countries.

Following analysis of this data, we can provide salary and bonus benchmarking reports for all the major shipping hubs globally, in job families including Chartering, Technical and Marine and Operations.

At a time when we are seeing so much change, the importance of trusted and robust salary benchmarking data is increasingly important. Members of the Maritime HR Association receive the most comprehensive shore-based compensation data available in the shipping industry.

“We joined the Maritime HR Association back in 2010 when we were struggling to source fair market salaries for our shore personnel in several locations. Spinnaker was unbelievably helpful giving us the support we needed and continued with excellent service for all the years. Over the time they grew the Association by adding more and more members in different locations and increasing the quality of salary and benefits data. They added additional services like bespoke reports or benefits surveys which is a great initiative to ask members for their feedback. Being member of the association gives us the opportunity to have a better understanding of salaries in shipping industry and helps us to pay fair salaries and benefits around the globe.”Oldendorff

These reports are also accessible to new members who would like to join the Association and participate themselves in forthcoming surveys. We would be delighted to have a discussion with shipping companies who are thinking of joining the Association.

Member benefits also include a ticket to our annual conference, participation in our regular information exchanges on topics such as parental leave and the impact of covid on holiday allowances, plus our informative Market Analysis reports which take a deeper look at the data and includes further analysis on topics such as gender and nationality within the industry.

“Subscribing to the Maritime HR Association has provided us over the last six years with invaluable information. We have offices spread over all the world and having reliable data for each country ensures we have a consistent approach in all of our offices which is key in attracting and retaining key talent. The Spinnaker team is always responsive and very reliable in getting back to us.”Fednav

Find out more about how you can access our reports and join the Association here.

£100k for newly qualified lawyers (but not in shipping!)

business computer

Newly-qualified lawyers in some of London’s major law firms are now paid £100,000. We’ve spoken recently about how it’s a candidate’s market, and we’ve always seen the legal private practice market as candidate-driven, with demand often outweighing supply, especially at the 2-5 years’ post-qualification level. 

Market competition for the brightest newly qualified lawyers is strong, and pay wars are driving salaries up to dizzying heights. Law firm Linklaters confirmed this week that their NQ pay is £107,500.

However these astronomical salaries – while great for occupying headlines – are limited to the ‘magic circle’ law firms, the 5 most prestigious firms in the City of London, who are known for paying high and working their lawyers incredibly hard. Outside of the ‘circle’, it’s a different story in shipping.

In the shipping firms, the salary benchmarks are looking slightly more modest. According to rollonfriday, Hill Dickinson is currently paying just under £60k for newly qualified lawyers, with Ince, Clyde & Co and HFW next in the £60-£66k category.  WFW are paying £73k with Reed Smith (now an American firm) out in front at £75k, which despite all being considerably less than the splashy salaries quoted in the news at other firms, are still healthy salaries for those in their first year post-qualification.

Tom Brooks, Senior Consultant of Spinnaker’s Legal and Insurance team, says “The demand for shipping lawyers remains steady.  We’re currently searching for lawyers for shipowner in-house roles as well as FD&D roles, which adds supply pressure to the private practice market. The sentiment for our sector is unchanged, with most clients still staying optimistic. The outlook for the next couple of quarters is certainly positive.”

For our current legal vacancies, click here.

It’s a candidate’s market

Colleagues at work together

We’re being asked by our maritime clients for advice on the fact it’s a candidate’s market right now. When the pandemic hit, it was a different story. People were being laid off, and companies weren’t hiring. The market was employer-led, and high numbers of candidates were applying for a small number of jobs. This continued for many months of this unsettled time, but as many countries progress with vaccination programmes and the easing of covid restrictions, market sentiment is more optimistic and people are hiring again.

What does this mean for maritime recruitment? Well, at the time of writing, the number of vacancies is now outweighing the number of candidates on the market. And in turn, this means that the market is very competitive. Companies are battling to get the best of the best. Candidates are driving the market and by being clearer in their demands can appear less flexible. With those who are passively considering opportunities, there needs to be an absolute clear and concrete reason and an advantage to them to move.  If the package and conditions are not in complete alignment, they will find someone else who can offer it, or will stay where they are for the security. 

The recruitment impact

This is 100% a candidate-driven market at the moment,” confirms Matthew Cornelius, Director of Commercial Recruitment for Spinnaker. “Especially in operations. Good operators and charterers have several companies all wanting them. But candidates are reluctant to move unless it’s worth it for them. Sideways moves aren’t always attractive when you’re in a stable job during an unstable time.

The commercial market is particularly affected by this. I’m hearing that operators are being poached from all over the industry.”

This is echoed in the technical recruitment department at Spinnaker, headed by Director, David Tubb. “90% of passive candidates are still willing to have a conversation. However, this discussion of upfront information comes much earlier in the process for some to even consider taking the next steps forward and getting someone interested in a position can take a lot more work than it did before. There is still a real fear around security and making the right decision. There have been more instances of candidates either staying put, being counter offered, or having more than one option on the table at a time.”

It’s not all about money: some candidates are more willing to look at less responsibility and less salary for a more comfortable balanced life and other benefits beyond the numbers. This is confirmed by Spinnaker consultant Hayley Menere. “In the legal and insurance sector, it’s often a candidate-led market. If you’re a 3/4 PQE UK-qualified Solicitor, you have the pick of the law firms. But we’re seeing more lawyers looking to move out of private practice. It’s a different dynamic, with less pressure, so we’ve definitely noticed an uptick in those seeking in-house roles.”

The effect on salaries

At Spinnaker, we provide salary benchmarking in maritime. Top shipping companies participate each year in both our shore-based and seagoing salary surveys, so we can give reliable salary data and promote best practice in the industry. Because this candidate-driven market affects salaries, our benchmarking team predict this will show itself in next year’s surveys.

“Our reports showed very little change to shore-based salaries in 2020, the result of an unsurprisingly cautious approach to pay increases during such uncertainty,” says Sarah Hutley of Spinnaker’s benchmarking team. “However, in 2021 I think we are seeing a growing desire within companies to reward and retain staff who have worked hard throughout the pandemic. This, along with the need to potentially pay more to attract new recruits, is likely to drive up the market salary ranges and potentially create some internal inequity which could take some years to address.”

Matthew Cornelius has noticed this effect in the recruitment team too. “Clients are asking me constantly if they’re underpaying because salaries have become so inflated. I can understand it: if you urgently need an operator, you’re willing to pay extra to secure the hire. However, I am advising my clients to hold fire and approach with caution, because hiring someone at such an inflated salary won’t be a good thing a year or two down the line when things have settled.”

Our advice to clients

We advise clients to be mindful of their ability to retain staff at such high rates – and think about the impact on existing staff salaries and inequities. We promote the use of annual pay reviews, including equal pay audits and gender pay analysis, which will identify any areas of immediate concern.

When it comes to recruitment, at Spinnaker we use a combination of advertising, email marketing, and direct approach. Don’t just rely on a job ad alone. While advertising is a great way to reach candidates, you’re missing out on people who aren’t actively looking.

I always remember placing a candidate,” recalls David Tubb, “and the client said to me: ‘He never would have found us, and we never would have found him.’ – that’s what we do as recruiters, we pick up the phone, we directly source, we take a chance on those who aren’t out proactively job seeking. Most of our placements come from having the right conversation with the right person at the right time.”

If you’d like to know more about our salary benchmarking or recruitment services, visit our website.

Benchmarking crew wages – Spinnaker report published

ship docked

Spinnaker is delighted to have published their 8th Seafarer Daily Wage Cost Report.

This report includes daily wage information for seafarers working on vessels including bulk carriers, LNG, LPG and cruise ships and is made up of data from 47 companies and over 250,000 seafarers.

The reports calculate the cost of filling a berth on a vessel using values for both salaried and unsalaried (paid only whilst at sea) seafarers with varying rotation patterns.

This daily wage cost can easily be multiplied up to provide monthly or annual figures.

Even in these unprecedented times, the reports have continued to grow and now provide data for even more nationalities for container, chemical tankers, crude tankers, LNG, LPG and cruise ships than in previous reports.

Spinnaker is also able to carry out further analysis based on this daily wage cost data such as:

  • Targeted peer group benchmarking
  • Ship manager or ship owner reports
  • Summary reports for senior or junior officers

Phil Parry, Chairman of Spinnaker, explains that “Benchmarking enables people to understand how to plan budgets and demonstrate to their staff, and to their staff’s unions, that they are paying fairly”.

He added “Benchmarking is not necessarily about paying the most, or paying the least, it is enabling people to understand where they are paying relative to the marketplace”.

Analysing the data at Spinnaker is reward manager Sandra Briegoos, who highlighted some key numbers. Spinnaker data shows that since 2017 there has been a 2% to 7% increase in pay for senior officers on chemical, crude oil and product tankers, compared to a 3% to 6% increase for those in the bulk sector.  Spinnaker also noted that the majority of companies review pay annually.

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] or call +44 (0) 1702 595 302

Over 150 maritime companies benchmark salaries with Spinnaker

salary, coins, money, pay

Spinnaker’s Maritime HR Association has been benchmarking shore-based salaries within the maritime industry since 2005. More recently, the Seafarers’ Association has been established to provide reliable wage cost benchmarking data for seafarers too – with crew cost data analysed by nationality, rank and vessel type.

So why do over 150 shipping companies take part?

Salary benchmarking is a way for businesses to compare their pay and benefits with those of their competitors, in order to:

  • attract top talent with competitive packages – particularly important when new roles are evolving, or skills are scarce;
  • improve retention – by reducing the risk of losing employees to competitors with more attractive packages, and the associated impacts of staff turnover generally (e.g. cost of hire, lost productivity and knowledge transfer);
  • increase employee motivation – through reward schemes that link to performance, reflect their value within the business and support career progression;
  • identify areas for improvement – to stay aligned with market demand and trends; and ultimately
  • provide reliable information – from which to review pay structures and set pay levels (as part of annual and ad hoc pay reviews).

Used as part of a broader reward strategy, employers can then:

  • influence employee behaviour so that they want to join, remain committed to stay and perform to their best;
  • ensure fair and equal pay within the business; and
  • promote the total reward concept– considering non-financial provisions with pay and benefits to meet the needs of the business and its employees.

The shore-based salary survey will soon be open for 2021. If you’re interested in taking part and understanding more about maritime salaries, please contact our benchmarking team at [email protected].

Allowance payments – who gets what in maritime?


According to Spinnaker’s Maritime HR Association data, shore-based roles still attract a large number of guaranteed allowance payments. The latest set of data shows nearly 30% of all employees surveyed receiving some form of regular, additional payments – covering school fees, housing, car and transportation costs as well as small but regular items such as meal vouchers, gym and fitness plans and internet allowances.

Some of the key findings from the recently published analysis on allowances in maritime are provided below:

Car and Transport

Combined, these payments make up the largest proportion of all additional allowance types. As with most allowances, those occupying the most senior roles are more likely to receive this type of payment (Executive Leadership Teams and Directors in particular) and the value of payments typically increase in line with seniority too.

Over half of Maritime HR Association members paid some form of car allowance or car benefit in 2020, and these payments were most prevalent in Belgium. Transport allowances are most likely paid in Saudi Arabia and the UAE yet appear in decline elsewhere around the globe.

Education and Schooling

2% of staff received schooling benefits, typically for expat employees with children up until 18 years of age. Cash allowances and actual reimbursements were both common, with fixed and variable amounts / caps depending on location and level of seniority. Staff in the UAE were found most likely to receive this benefit.


The proportion of employees receiving housing allowances remains fairly stable, at just over 6% of employees. The value of these allowances will of course be driven by local housing costs, and payments in Singapore remain the most generous. Payments in the UAE and India meanwhile have shown significant increases on 2019 values.

A further 1% of employees were identified as receiving a housing allowance as part of their enhanced expatriate package, predominantly employees working across the Asia Pacific region.

Long term incentive plans

Incumbents in Norway and those working at Executive Leadership Team and Director level roles remain the most likely to receive this benefit. The number of recipients is down slightly on last year, but as ‘long-term’ by both their name and nature, this is unlikely to be the direct impact of the current economic climate on individuals already receiving these awards. However, there will likely be policy discussions around future eligibility and affordability as all reward schemes and working practices are reviewed post COVID-19.

If you would like to be a member of the Maritime HR Association and receive our Market Analysis reports, please contact [email protected].

Seafarer report: shortages, restrictions and freezes shaped 2020

ships crew

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].

Who pays the highest in chartering & freight trading?

salary, coins, money, pay

Although 2020 has brought a magnitude of challenges to the maritime industry, chartering and freight trading compensation appears relatively unscathed.  Base salaries, bonus payments and total compensation has remained on par with previous years. But is change on the horizon?

Base salaries highest in…

Base salaries in the US are among the highest across all job levels, with Singapore paying similar at Professional and Senior Professional level. At Manager and Head of / Director levels though, the US is joined by Denmark as one of the highest payers.

A shift at the top?

37% of the highest of proportion of staff in Singapore at Professional and Senior Professional level are Singaporean nationals.  So, it will be interesting to see if salaries in Singapore at higher levels increase as these staff progress further.

More women poised for senior positions in the future

Women are still underrepresented in chartering and freight trading jobs.  This year 17% of all incumbents are women and 47% of them are working at Junior / Trainee and Professional level, a slight increase on last year.   Could this indicate more women joining the specialism?  If so, in a few years could we see these women progress through the job family and hold more senior positions?  Only time will tell. 

We are already seeing this happening on a small scale at the Manager / Senior Manager level where the percentage of women has increased this year.

Tankers continue to pay highest

The same old continues when looking at company types and vessel type. As we saw with last year, the tanker industry pays their charterers and freight traders the highest when compared with Dry Bulk and Mixed Fleet incumbents.  Oil companies and commodity groups are still higher payers than their shipowner counterparts.

While we may expect some areas of the industry impacted by the pandemic, so far the indication is that Chartering and Freight Trading has become a more important aspect of maritime companies as the ‘money makers’.  There are some changes happening with regards to demographics so we will keep an eye on how this changes over the next few years. 

These insights were brought to you from Spinnaker’s benchmarking team using data from our 2020 shore-based salary benchmarking report. Want to know more? Contact Helen McCaughran at [email protected].