Crew Shortage

In this area, you can comment on employers, trends, jobs, rumors affecting the jobs and job prospect of Marine Engineers.

Do you think there is a real shortage of Marine Engineers ?

Yes - all ranks
22
43%
No - perhaps some ranks
11
22%
Yes - but only senior ranks
11
22%
No - Not at all
7
14%
 
Total votes: 51

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The Dieselduck
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Britain drags its feet over seafarer jobs

Postby The Dieselduck » Thu Nov 29, 2007 2:16 pm

Britain drags its feet over seafarer jobs
David Osler, 15 October 2007 Lloyds List

JOINT UK Chamber of Shipping and trade union proposals to boost employment of British seafarers have yet to receive a response from the government, six full months after they were tabled to the Department for Transport.

The issue seems to have been put on the back burner as a result of the ministerial shake-up following the transfer of the prime ministership from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, which in July led to highly regarded shipping minister Stephen Ladyman being dropped in favour of Jim Fitzpatrick.

But the tardiness in considering the package, which the Chamber, Nautilus UK and RMT all regard as urgent, is clearly fraying the patience of all concerned.

Adding to the tension is the fact that the plan is very much a compromise affair and some on the union side see it as somewhat meek in the first place.

Lloyd’s List has seen a copy of the document, entitled ‘Stimulating seafarer training and employment’. As it is technically the property of the government, it is not regarded as being in the public domain.

It begins by setting out the familiar arguments about the decline in the British seafaring workforce and the need for home-grown seafaring talent to meet the needs of Britain’s shore-based maritime cluster.

“There is clearly an urgent need, in the national interest, to reverse this downward skills trend,” it notes in bold type.

As things stand, companies that avail themselves of tonnage tax must provide training for cadets but do not have to offer them employment as British officers are relatively expensive by international standards.

By way of remedy, the signatories propose that the government funds 100% of all training costs in return for a voluntary commitment from companies to provide employment for 18 months.

While it is difficult to properly cost the proposals offsetting savings might be possible in other areas, notably through the abolition of the existing Crew Cost Relief Scheme which costs £2.25m ($4.6m) a year.

If, after two years, the arrangements do not appear to be meeting the expectations of both officers and ratings they should be reviewed.

A spokesman for Nautilus UK, which represent British officers, said the union was meeting Mr Fitzpatrick tomorrow and the document would be top of the agenda.

“A lot of it got derailed by the change of ministers. That was a spanner in the works,” he said.

He pointed out that wider debate on the issue had been going on for almost two years. “Mr Ladyman had been saying a decision was imminent for about a year, and we were becoming impatient at the failure to get a result,” he added. “It is really frustrating that it gets kicked back into touch as a result of a ministerial shake-up.”

A spokesman for the Chamber of Shipping added: “The new minister has not had very long to look at it. We are hopeful of a positive response soon.”

In an email statement, the Department for Transport said: “The government has met with the three authors of the joint proposal to discuss the options put forward.

“Following this a small working group led by MCA was created and has met twice to look into the practicalities of the proposal.

“A formal response will be made when these discussions have been completed.”

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PSA makes pledge on pilot shortage

Postby The Dieselduck » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:27 pm

PSA makes pledge on pilot shortage
Marcus Hand, 14 December 2007 Lloyds List

PSA SINGAPORE has moved to reassure shipowners over concerns about a shortage of pilots that has resulted in some berthing delays in recent months, writes Marcus Hand.

In recent months its subsidiary PSA Marine, the sole provider of pilotage services in Singapore, has been hit by several pilots quitting at a time when there is already a global shortage.

Addressing concerns from its members, Singapore Shipping Association carried out a survey on berthing delays as well as meeting senior PSA officials.

Association president S S Teo stressed that delays were relatively short at just 6-12 hours. With Singapore priding itself on its efficiency expectations from shipowners and operators were high.

“Our members who came for the meeting went away very satisfied,” he said.

In addition to a shortage in pilots recent delays were blamed on rough weather, and an increased demand for pilots from tugs and barges carrying sand into Singapore.

Mr Teo did not say specifically what PSA would do to alleviate the shortage but said: “PSA Marine will have to find ways to attract pilots and retain them.”

It is understood, however, that one of the measures being considered involves bringing in former navy officers to be pilots. An industry source said this was tried about two years ago but with little success.

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Experienced Seafafers = Mercenaries

Postby The Dieselduck » Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:19 pm

Funny thing about this article, I said this about two years ago in my HR Babble article. Don Sutherland followed up with his views in another article with the same subtext. (both found in the Ship's Library) Duh. What did the companies expect! They have been boiling all the reasons for not doing things to keep seafarer happy to money; why shouldn't seafarers adapt to the same ideology.

Anyways, here's the article. - Martin



Don't knock the mercenary
31 December 2007 Lloyds List

THERE have been complaints about the mercenary qualities of modern mariners, mostly by people who can’t find sufficient of them at a price they are prepared to pay. It is not a new phenomenon; look back to any industry where there is a labour shortage and you will find many of the same sentiments expressed.

Most recently, the website of the Shiptalk Jobs organisation focused on a paper given at the Lloyd’s List Events Manning and Training Conference in Manila, where Wallem’s John Wood raised the hackles of many with some hard-hitting remarks about mariners being more interested in their package than the job for which they are hired. Clearly an address designed to stir up the delegates, it seems to have succeeded admirably, although some might suggest he was a brave man to have made such remarks in the very centre of global manning.

But ship operators should perhaps be wary of criticising a process of rebalancing the rewards of seafarers, after a long period where they have remained very depressed. Rather than criticising seafarers for their demands for shorter tours of duty, better wages and conditions and far better connectivity with their families, owners and managers ought perhaps to focus upon the productivity increases there have been over the past 25 years or so. Manpower has been squeezed like a lemon during this period, costs have been ruthlessly pared down, with owners demonstrating a disturbing willingness to chase cheap crews all over the world. They have, regrettably, focused too much on cheapness rather than quality.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost, and there is an opportunity to put things right. After an era that has seen the effective death of company loyalty, maybe it is time for some resurrection to take place. Time for employers to value their seafarers rather more highly and to look at what can be done to select the very best, and encourage them to stay. And this is not about indulging mercenary propensities, but showing prudent good sense while looking to the long-term future.

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Marine industry examines future labour needs

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:50 pm

Mark Wilson - "the voice of maritime skills shortage in Canada" - writes this piece for Canadian Sailings Magazine issue of Sept 2006.

Marine industry examines future labour needs.

Regional differences in Canada are as persistent as the solar wind and a lot more boisterous. But it may be a surprise to some that there is cleavage between the East and West Coasts in how the future supply of marine workers is viewed.

On our Pacific shores there is hand wringing over the impending exit

from the workforce of those born to the men and women who took with them into the bedroom the impressive energies they had displayed in the Second World War.

By contrast, there is confidence in Montreal and Halifax that recruitment to provide replacement workers and additional hires will prove adequate.

British Columbia's forecasts of looming shortfalls in labour supply in all departments of the marine sector

are contained in a comprehensive survey done by Roslyn Kunin & Associates for the Western Marine Community Association.

As Jeremiah-in-Chief, Dr. Ros Kunin calls for "an awful lot of very effective action to be taken immediately," if the West Coast marine industry is not to come a cropper.

The Kunin survey estimates employment in the B.C. marine sector in 2005 at 16,500 full-time jobs. Employment could grow by 10 per cent a year, if suitable applicants can be found. industry entrants over the next 10 years could number near 7,500, equal to 35 per cent of the current workforce.

This is a stiff challenge and must be met by an industry in which higher skill and performance levels must offset increased per capita investment costs.

One answer, Dr. Kunin suggests, is to capture more skilled workers from offshore.

"Canada, in common with other developed countries, is not producing the number of workers it needs for the marine sector and other industries. There needs to be freer movement of trained personnel between countries and readier acceptance of credentials obtained elsewhere if we are not to face a serious problem," she told Canadian Sailings.

This encouragement of an influx of immigrants with appropriate job skills needs to be accompanied by an expansion of training programs for those born here.

Given the aggressive adoption of these two remedies, Dr. Kunin is moderately optimistic that the West Coast marine industry can satisfy its recruitment needs. The alternative, in her view, is dire: "if the marine industry doesn't get serious about human resources it will come to an end."

Rick Bryant, president of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, claimed that the realities of an aging workforce are now generally appreciated.

The retirement of the cohort born in the immediate post-war period affe.cts all areas of the marine sector, some more severely than others.

According to the Kunin report, even the most favourably placed sectors of the industry are already experiencing mild problems that will become serious within 10 to IS years. Other sectors will encounter severe problems within three to five years.

The concerns even extend to Cape Breton, the fleet maintenance facility at the Esquimalt naval base on Vancouver Island. "The C.O. there is worried that civilian contractors may find themselves short of workers to undertake the maintenance and refit of naval vessels. There has been one meeting on the issue and another is planned," Capt. Bryant said.

These talks could lead to the setting up of a human resources sectoral council partnered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), which is involved in similar endeavours in more than 30 other industries.

Separately, the West Coast Marine Community Association, which held a oneday conference in the spring on recruitment and training issues, is preparing a report for HRSDC that will contain an abridgement of the Kunin survey and note recruitment and training efforts underway or planned.

One training initiative that failed to launch was a proposal for a cadet program put forward by the western branch of the Canadian Merchant Service Guild to Washington Marine, the major towboat operator on the West Coast.

Guild business agent Guy Beaulieu said: "Joy Thomson (a fellow guild official) attempted to set up a cadet program with them and was unsuccessful. (Washington) hired a couple of recruits and then let them go. They liked the idea, but they didn't follow through on the detail.

"We face a shortage of ships, officers, and I don't know where we are going to get people from. We have a lot of officers heading into retirement and an insufficient number of new people coming up behind them.

"Companies that used to have apprenticeship programs have pretty well dropped them for cost-saving reasons. Having apprentices increases crew size, and companies, with rare exception, have reduced crews to the minimum numbers required by Transport Canada," Mr. Beaulieu said.

He exempts BC Ferries and the Canadian Coast Guard from his stricture that the marine industry is taking a shortsighted, cost-driven view of training, or rather the lack of it.

"Maybe companies expect to meet their need for licensed personnel by poaching from others, but where will that lead?" he asked.

Mr. Beaulieu said that the prominence of towboating on the West Coast and the complexities of a ragged coastline make it difficult to follow Dr. Kunin's prescription and recruit certificated personnel from offshore.

"Someone with a master mariner's certificate who has been taking freighters around the world isn't going to be of much help if they show up here. It will be pretty tough for them unless they also have towboating experience and eventhen they will be faced with a long learning curve in these waters," he said.

Ivan Lantz, director of marine operations with the Shipping Federation of Canada, commented that "our industry does not have the keys to the immigration file. Even if there was agreement within the industry about the need, the present government seems to be of a mind to curtail rather than increase immigration. This is a bit confusing, as more employees seem to be needed, in a general sense."

Capt. Lantz said that while recruitment to fill jobs afloat is something of a struggle, the greatest concern is with replacing certificated officers.

He said a common complaint in all realms of the transportation industry, be it marine, commercial aviation, trucking or bus transportation, is that potential entrants are loath to take jobs that take them away from home. "They don't seem willing to travel," he
said.

Frequent information exchanges between waterfront employer groups 'in Montreal and Vancouver haven't stopped the Maritime Employers Association and its counterpart, the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, diverging in their choice of next-generation training equipment.

The Montreal-based MEA, which deals with nearly 1,300 full-time employees and 4,000 casuals in its home city, Hamilton, TroisRivi6res and Toronto, is sticking with updated training simulators provided by MPRI Ship Analytics, of North Stonington, Conn.

The BCMEA deals with 3,878 longshoremen and 451 foremen and their training needs. Like the MEA, the B.C. organization bought its original simulation equipment from a predecessor company to MPRI Ship Analytics and then refreshed it. Now, it has gone shopping in India.

BCMEA president Frank Pasacreta said he believes the two crane simulators that Applied Research International of India is to deliver in November will probably be the most advanced of their kind in the world. They are costing $2.5 million.

The simulators will provide training on four types of equipment: clockside gantry cranes, rubber-tired gantry cranes, ship gantry cranes and pedestal cranes.

Mr. Pasacreta said Vancouver was second only to Los Angeles in its original purchase -of a simulator to train dockside gantry- crane operators. Equipment was later upgraded to make ' Vancouver the first port in the world with

simulator training on four different types of cranes. Image generation, to give greater realism, was boosted, too.

"Now that equipment is obsolete, having outlived its useful life. Replacement was our only option," Mr. Pasacreta said.

MPRI Ship Analytics is a unit of L-3 Communications Corp., of New York. The parent's chief customers are the military, government agencies and companies in the aerospace and communications fields. "We felt that crane simulators were only a small part of the overall business and that resources and time weren't being devoted to their development," Mr. Pasacreta said.

A master mariner who came ashore to head a marine college in Mumbai was the founder of ARI. It specializes in crane simulators and is a leader in its field.

Mr. Pasacreta said the ATI units will offer trainees a wide angle of vision. ATI cameramen have been in Vancouver to film different terminals and regular vessel callers, which will be displayed on the simulators.

"Adding different ship types or even adding a new terminal is a matter of changing the software," Mr. Pasacreta said.

The ATI machines are to go to a temporary home in Vancouver's neighbouring community of Richmond while the BCMEA seeks to develop a permanent training centre, which will probably involve new construction.

In the meantime, the BCMEA executive is finalizing a proposal requesting board approval for the purchase of additional simulators to train operator's-of bomb carts, lift trucks and bWk-handling equipment.

jean 136clard, an MEA vice-president, said his organization has chosen to progressively update its simulation equipment, staying loyal to MPRI Ship Analytics. "We have updated to the highest level and have the same simulation capabilities as Hong Kong and Singapore," he said.

Adequacy of recruitment is not a concern in Montreal, where 200 permanent employees were taken on in 2005.

Mr. B6dard said there was a hiring drought for a number of years, which reflected cargo activity. When hiring resumed, it lowered the average age of the permanent labour force "so now we have much younger individuals operating our top equipment."

Hiring procedures have been refined so that candidates for permanent positions have to pass a medical examination and written and aptitude tests. The rejection rate is about 25 per cent.

This screening has resulted in a noticeable drop in the time needed for candidates to display proficiency during simulator training.

MEA policy for the past 10 years has been to reserve some job slots for women and members of visible minorities. Mr. 136clard said that with the maturing of the program, these hires are advancing to higher-paying work.

While the MEA monitors container handling productivity in other ports, Mr. 136clard is chary of making comparisons with Vancouver. "Montreal is a destination port,"_he said. "We empty an entire ship and fill it back up. Vancouver gets vessels that are dropping off or picking up at another ports. "Its different."

While Mr. Mclard's optimism about meeting future hiring needs is shared byRobert Bonnar, president of Local 2 9 of the International Longshoremen's As!sociation in Halifax, there is no scope for techsavvy chat between the two about the merits of competing models of crane simulators.

"We don't have one and there is no indication from the HEA (Halifax Employers Association) that they are thinking of getting one," Mr. Bonnar said.

Nor does the port have a machinery training area. "We used to have one at Pier 23, but they have taken that for a convention centre. We are quite concerned," he said.

"We had discussions with the HEA over a crane simulator and I don't understand why we don't have one. We believe that the HEA went to the U.S., seeking to rent time on a simulator there, but as we are viewed as the competition by U.S. ports, that didn't go anywhere.

"We have lots of bodies here. It's just a matter of getting them trained," Mr. Bonnar said.

One problem is securing time for trainees to practise on shipboard cranes. One independent container line did cooperate in training but then withdrew from the port.

Mr. Bonnar said that on the recruitment side, the union and employers have moved to a lottery system. Candidates who satisfy certain criteria have their names entered in a draw. "it ensures fairness and moves us away from any suggestion for nepotism," Mr. Bonnar said.

Coming in the fall is an Internet-based approach to raising awareness of job

opportunities in transportation, with spe- il cial attention to careers in the marine industry.

The Western Transportation Advisory Council, an industry-supported body best known for carefully researched reports and high-level conferences, is to start listing employment openings on its website.

Initial funding for the venture is coming from the marine industry and Transport Canada. Ongoing costs will be met in part by companies posting vacancies.

Westac president Ruth Sol said: "We want to bring together job postings in logistics and the marine, rail, trucking and air modes.

"The demographics are unmistakable, so transportation will be competing against:r other industries in a tight labour market. We want to inform high school and college students that transportation and logis-. tics can offer them high-paying jobs."

Westac is joining with the B.C. Institute of Technology, the Alberta Institute of Technology (Calgary), the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (Edmonton) and Red River College (Winnipeg) to reach students who might otherwise overlook ob prospects in transportation.

Westac is sending posters describing the new service to high schools in all four western provinces, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. It plans to make its job pages bilingual.

"Career counsellors appear to have a better awareness of what transportation offers, but the message is still not reaching some students," Mrs. Sol said.

And even if transportation wins the attention of a goodly share, even a dispro- i portionate share, of job seekers, it won't

be enough.

"We will need immigrants and we will have to broaden our rea ch at home to attract women and visible minorities. We will need to look under every rock and stone," Mrs. Sol said.

On the marine side, the need for immigrants is pressing. Canada's coastal and freshwater shipping isn't yielding a sufficient supply of pilots and shore-based managers.

The United Kingdom, which provided the Port of Vancouver with both its current president and his immediate predecessor, has a much shrunken merchant marine and new talent may have to come from Asian and other countries with large merchant fleets, Mrs. Sol suggested.

"We are not going to make it without immigrants and we are not going to make it if we don't provide adequate training in Canada, as the number of openings for unskilled workers is declining dramatically," she said.

"The transportation industry across Canada provides lots of jobs, maybe 900,000. Many of thesejobs are not in major urban centres and that is valuable when so much job generation is concentrated in big cities."

Dispersed employment opportunities make a good fit with the job needs of First Nations, Mrs. Sol said.

Westac's own estimates of traffic growth suggest the coming pressure on labour supply in Western Canada's transportation industry.

Coal output in the period to 2015 is expected to grow at the rate of six per cent a year, on aver age. Forest product shipments will increase by 2.3 per cent, grains by 2.1 per cent and fertilizer by 1.8 per cent. Given large base volumes, these modest-sounding annual gains will add big tonnages over a decade.

Coal shipments through B.C. ports are expected to more than double to 50.7 million tonnes by 2015, while movements to the U.S. and Eastern Canada will show little change at 5.3 million tonnes.

The Port of Vancouver is on course to handle a record two million 20-foot equivalent units of container traffic this year and the forecast that total West Coast container traffic could hit 5.41 million TEUs by 2015 appears attainable.

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Top seafarer shortage at critical proportions

Postby The Dieselduck » Thu Jan 10, 2008 3:55 pm

Top seafarer shortage at critical proportions
Felicity Landon, 8 January 2008 Lloyds List

THE shortage of competent officers and high-quality seafarers will become far more critical for the shipping world in the coming years if the root of that problem is not tackled now.

This is the stark warning from Ole Wang, chairman of InterManager’s manning and training committee, who said: “We are looking at training facilities to ensure quality — because we believe that unless we attack the root of the problem, which is recruitment and getting quality people in from the bottom, we are not going to succeed and we will have an even larger problem than we have now.”

InterManager recently announced a series of initiatives that it believes will help to boost crew numbers and encourage an industry-wide drive to improve the training of new cadets.

Among these, all new and existing members of the association are obliged to adopt a formal cadet programme on board the ships they manage. This includes a requirement to offer at least one cadet berth per ship under full management in the member’s fleet. InterManager says it will also back efforts to convince shipowners to support their managers by investing more in their training and cadet programmes.

On top of that, InterManager has stated its intention to establish minimum standards for nautical schools with a view to these being accredited by the association and used as “reputable and competent sources of future seafarers for its members”.

“We are looking at what we can do to ensure that we have qualified personnel available to man the ships of the future,” said Mr Wang of Barber Shipmanagement. “Our special focus goes on the recruitment, making sure we have the proper cadet systems in place. Then, when we do have recruitment of cadets, the emphasis is on making sure they actually get the proper training.”

InterManager is focusing its attention in particular on training establishments in the Philippines. According to Mr Wang, of some 95 training institutions in the Philippines, InterManager believes that only about 15 are “up to scratch”.

“There is a good supply of seafarers from the Philippines but training isn’t regulated enough and it isn’t controlled enough,” he added. “InterManager felt that about 15 were quality and the others were not. It is more to do with producing numbers than quality, and InterManager wants to ensure that the people we bring in and the institutions that we work with deliver quality, not just quantity.”

Ole Stene, InterManager president and managing director of Abotiz Jebsen, said: “Right now, 25% of seafarers are coming from the Philippines and the country will continue to be a major supplier — but there is a huge opportunity to expand this further.

“There is a huge demand for competent officers right now. What we can do at InterManager is to focus on quality, training and recruitment. We have strengthened and revitalised our manning and training committee and we are trying to get more stakeholders involved — because obviously one of the main concerns for the whole industry is how do we recruit for this industry in the future.”

He says that the allocation of one cadet berth per ship requires “very little investment” and there is a general understanding among professional shipowners and managers that this has to be done — although there are still some ship operators “who don’t have the same sort of vision”.

In the past ship operators have asked how they can be sure that when they invest in a cadet or two on board their ships, those cadets will stay to become their officers in the future, says Mr Stene. “But that is quite easily handled, especially with Filipinos, because if you treat people well and promise them a career in your company they will stay loyal,” he added. “It is the same in other industries — if you offer a clear training programme and career pattern, you will get loyalty.

“With the demand for competent officers in particular, everybody is starting to realise that we have to invest in the human capital side. And without berths for cadets, how can youngsters become seafarers with no training on board ships?”


Mr Pryce of the Marine L list comments...

(Despite all that has been written about this subject, he still manages to get it badly wrong. The problem is not just getting cadets to go to sea. The biggest problem is trying to keep them - and everybody else - to stay at sea - and with present condiions at sea, he is going to fail badly!)

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Emsa hires extra staff as remit grows

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:46 pm

Emsa hires extra staff as remit grows
Justin Stares, 6 February 2008 Lloyds List

STAFF levels at the European Maritime Safety Agency are due to hit 200 this year, five times more than initial estimates.

The Lisbon-based European Union agency, which is due to move into its new headquarters in May, has seen its remit expand since the first employeeswere recruited in 2003 and is expected to keep growing alongside the body of Brussels maritime safety and security legislation.

In addition to core tasks, such as checking national laws in the 27 member states to ensure they conform to EU law, the agency has been asked to supervise implementation of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers; onboard security and the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code; the Cleanseanet oil spill satellite system; standards at third country maritime training institutes; a long-range vessel tracking system; and the operation of its own fleet of emergency oil spill response vessels.

The so-called ‘third package’ of maritime safety laws, now working their way through the EU institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg, is expected to create new tasks such as the creation of an EU port state control database.

Emsa staff are also increasingly used by the European Commission for help with drafting new laws and providing data for policy decisions.

The original staffing estimate was 40. The agency’s budget has risen to around €45m ($66m), much of which is spent on the oil spill response vessels, which are stationed around the EU.

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Maersk to lay off Danish stewards and ratings

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:00 pm

I was surprise to read this. Not because it is happening, but because it took so long it to happen. They have been whining for a few months now that the company is not making record profits, so lets go to the tried and true method of earning money - cut more people from the ship - yeah that always works. huh uh. Cutting ratings - one less way of anyone "breaking into" working on ships... Theres some real corporate vision.

Martin

-------------------

Maersk to lay off Danish stewards and ratings
By Janet Porter, 5 February 2008 Lloyds List

AP Moller-Maersk is to dismiss Danish chief stewards and ratings working on its Danish-flag containerships and tankers in yet another cost-cutting measure.

Around 200 personnel will lose their jobs and will be replaced by foreign nationals.

However, the company said this move would not impact on the recruitment of Danish cadets.

“We still need to employ all the cadets we can get,” the company said in a statement.

The redundancies “are a result of the internationalisation of the seafarers which has been going on for some years, and reflect the fact that international crew have proven their capabilities and abilities to offer a qualified alternative to the Danish chief stewards and ratings,” the statement continued. “Today we have to hire seafarers based on cost competitiveness.”

Most of the ratings will be dismissed within six months. For the chief stewards the process will continue into 2009

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Is Officer Shortage Just Artificial?

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:43 pm

Is Officer Shortage Just Artificial?
Submitted by Tinig ng Marino on Fri, 11/09/2007 - 22:34

By Rey Gambe

To most people in the maritime industry, the officer shortage is now at alarming levels and almost everyone is calling on everybody to work together to put a solution to the worsening problem.

But to C/E Antonino R. Gascon, a top official of a local manning agency and a maritime training center, the shortage that the global maritime industry is now feeling at the moment is merely artificial and something that can be properly addressed within a month's time if only shipowners really put their hearts into it.

According to the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), marine officer shortage was pegged at 10,000 as of its December 2005 report and would swell to 25,000 or maybe more by 2010. BIMCO adds that the officer shortage is now increasing at a rate of 5,000 per year especially in light of the ambitious newbuilding programs of practically all major shipping companies in the world that would add more than 2,000 new vessels to the global merchant fleet by 2012.

In the BIMCO report of 2005, it was also pointed out that the ship officer make up of the world merchant fleet is dominated largely by six nationalities. The distribution of officers, based on nationalities, are: 46,497 are Indians, 46,359 are Filipinos, 42,704 are Chinese, 28,408 are Eastern Europeans, 22,091 are Turkish, and 21,680 are Russians. There are other nationalities holding officer positions in several ships including British, Danish, Japanese, Americans among a few others but they only make up a small percentage of even the sixth-placed country with the most number of ship officers in the world.

"While we are still three years to go until 2010 and about two years from the time that BIMCO released its report citing that the officer shortage was at 10,000 as of end-2005, let's assume for the purpose of discussion that the shortage is now at 25,000 officers," says C/E Gascon.

"During the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) industry forum held sometime in March 2007, the commission made mention that it has in its roster 65,000 licensed deck officers and about 64,000 licensed engine officers. These are all active mariners and the PRC database does not allow for double registration because once an officer gets his license number, that will be it for his entire career. He may move from one position higher until he becomes a Master or a Chief Engineer but he will still have the same license number so once an Officer-in-Charge level officer becomes a Second Mate or a Third Engineer, the database will automatically erase his entry from the previous position," explains C/E Gascon.

"Although the number may have increased by this time already considering that there have been several examinations conducted since March 2007 where a number of mariners passed but let's just conservatively assume that the total figure of Filipino licensed officer is now 130,000. Then let's take into consideration the 46,359 Filipino officers serving onboard merchant marine vessels as of the BIMCO report in December 2005. Let's assume that by this time, after two years, the figure has now increased by 20% so the total Filipinos now serving onboard is now roughly 56,000," he explained further.

"We have 130,000 licensed Filipino officers less 56,000 now currently serving onboard so we have a difference of 74,000 licensed Filipino ship officers! That is three times the figure of the officer shortage that the global merchant marine fleet is now supposedly experiencing. This means therefore that the shortage is artificial. The supply is very much there if only the shipowners care to look deeper into their respective resource," claims C/E Gascon.

"The artificial nature of the shortage is caused by no other than the shipowners themselves for their inability to promote officers. They have been employing Filipino seafarers for a long time but most of them seem timid to promote. I know a number of AB and oilers with OIC license but who cannot get a crack at using it because their shipowners do not want to promote them. Likewise, I also know a number of OIC level officers possessing junior officer licenses who cannot use it because their shipowners seem to overlook them," cites C/E Gascon.

"I even know of a Chief Mate with a Master's license but still cannot use it over the last five years because the shipowner cannot seem to recognize his potentials. So what he did is to look for another company that is willing to promote him. I actually told him that if you cannot be promoted with your present company, what's make you think that there will be others who will do so? I am also aware of several junior officers, who after completing their training requirements, would prefer to take a backseat and wait for good offers (of promotion) from other companies. If nothing comes along their way within a month's time or two, then that's the time that they will stick with their previous company," narrates C/E Gascon.

"In other words, the Philippines have a good supply of officers but they are just being under-utilized because shipowners do not want to promote them," laments C/E Gascon.

He adds: "It is only now that some shipowners are beginning to act on the matter because they are now feeling the crunch and their multi-million businesses are now being affected as well."

"Shipowners should be candid enough to tell the Philippines as the No. 1 supplier of seaborne manpower what are the factors that hinder them in promoting officers. They should tell the local maritime industry what are the things needed to qualify those under-utilized officers for promotion. If those licensed deck officers and engineers are not yet 'promotable,' shipowners and ship managers should likewise tell the maritime industry the specific areas that need to be focused on or improved so that it can addressed accordingly in the soonest possible time. What is the use of constantly training our seafarers to become quality officers when they cannot be promoted at all?" asks C/E Gascon

"Salary is not the solution to the problem as what most shipowners seem to think nowadays. This perception is further reinforced by the fact that a number of owner's representatives have been constantly bargaining salaries with Filipino seafarers at Luneta as of late. They are just lowering the standards of the seafaring profession. Most Filipino seafarers would prefer a promotion instead of a higher salary. But unlike the Chinese seafarers who can demand outright promotion from shipowners, the Filipino seafarers prefer to take a wait-and-see attitude for their shipowners to recognize their potentials. The problem is, the wait is often too long," he elaborates.

C/E Gascon also cited that while numerous international forums and conferences have been made regarding the problem of officer shortage since 2005, no concrete solutions were developed during those occasions. He also expects that no solutions will be provided by subsequent international conferences since the problem is artificial in nature.

"I am challenging shipowners to zero in on the artificial problem of shortage that they have in fact created. Unless they get their acts together and start promoting officers, the shortage will still be a shortage as what BIMCO has been projecting all along. But if shipowners start promoting their people especially the under-utilized lot, the 25,000 officer shortage can in fact be addressed within a month's time. It's not yet too late to do it," stressed C/E Gascon.

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Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:08 pm

This article is not directly related to crew shortages, but I do love the last paragraph.

Martin

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UK slams tonnage tax door on service ships
Justin Stares, 29 January 2008 Lloyds List

THE UK government has warned shipowners that it is tightening up tonnage tax legislation in response to a re-interpretation by the European Commission of what constitutes maritime transport.

From April, certain types of vessel will no longer be eligible for tonnage tax advantages, said the Inland Revenue.

New legislation now under way in the UK will specifically exclude cable layers and certain types of dredger, as well as research ships, oil well stimulation vessels and remotely-operated support vessels.

The changes are being pushed through following “helpful” discussions with Brussels over the interpretation of state aid guidelines for maritime transport.

“The government’s discussions with the commission have led to a clarification of what is considered to be ‘maritime transport’ for the purposes of the state aid guidelines,” the Inland Revenue said.

“Ships that provide transport in connection with other services of a kind provided at sea will no longer qualify for tonnage tax. With effect from 1 April, all of the profits from operating these ships will be taxed under the normal rules of corporation tax. For the avoidance of any doubt, cable-layers, pipe-layers and survey ships, which were treated as being partly within tonnage tax, are being added to the list of types of vessel that are specifically excluded from tonnage tax.”

Other revenues, including on-board sales of food, drink and perfume, will also be excluded from April, as will passenger excursions.

Sue Bill, a tax partner with accountant Moore Stephens, said the changes would be “very disappointing for affected shipowners who have made a 10-year commitment to tonnage tax. The timing is unfortunate, too, as shipowners are likely to still be feeling jittery following recent tonnage tax developments in Norway”.

Norway rolled back tonnage tax privileges at the beginning of the year.

The European Commission believes maritime activity is defined as a ship sailing between one port and another (this also excludes waterways). The re-interpretation came to light last year when the commission queried the tonnage tax system under approval in Denmark.

Ships such as cable layers have been included de facto for years under tonnage tax regimes in many member states.

The European Community Shipowners’ Association has voiced concerns over the commission’s “dogmatic” stance. Owners will re-flag to non-EU states rather than pay more tax, Ecsa said. The European Dredging Association has added its voice to this threat.

Others, including unions, say Europe’s tonnage tax regime — essentially a system of tax relief based on ship number and size rather than profit — has done little or nothing to boost the employment of seafarers, while shipowners continue to enjoy record profits.

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Show us the money, say seafarers

Postby The Dieselduck » Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:32 pm

Show us the money, say seafarers
David Osler, 14 February 2008 Lloyds List

MONEY has emerged as the main attraction of seafaring employment, with over 30% of a largely officer-based opinion survey citing pay as the top factor that attracted them to the career in the first place, writes David Osler.

While the finding will surprise few — salaries are why most people work, after all — the news for employers is more encouraging in other aspects, with 45% saying they were in for the long haul and intended to remain as seafarers until retirement.

The poll was undertaken by Shiptalk, a Gateshead-based maritime recruitment consultancy, and was conducted by asking visitors to its website to fill out a questionnaire. As a result, the sample was skewed by nationality, range and a high age profile, although the company believes that the geographical split is enough for the research to be considered globally representative.

Asked reasons for choosing a job at sea, some 16% bluntly admitted “for the money” and a further 15.8% said “better wages than jobs at home”, meaning that nearly a third of respondents had thought first and foremost of pay. Interestingly, 22.4% simply “wanted a career at sea”, 18.4% wanted “to see the world” and 7.6% mentioned “family tradition”.

Asked if they considered seafaring as a job for life, 45.0% said they wanted to retire on a pension after a full life career at sea, and 30.6% want to remain long enough to secure qualifications. Only 5.7% were after a quick buck and intended to complete one or two trips and then get a job ashore. A further 6.1% said they would stay at sea until they had earned enough to buy a house.

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"See the money" seafarers

Postby The Dieselduck » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:50 am

Skills shortage forces owners to dig deep
David Osler, 22 February 2008 Lloyds List

OFFICERS with niche skills are landing pay increases of anything up to 25%, as the long-anticipated shipping skills crisis forces some owners to put their hands deep in their pockets, writes David Osler.

Leading maritime employers have confirmed that rises of this magnitude are so far confined to senior officers with experience of specialist vessel types, but officers across the board look to be benefiting from the trend. There is some evidence that 7%-8% represents the new going rate, although some bosses continue to strike deals below that level.

However, some companies have reportedly offered enhanced leave and loyalty bonuses in a bid to keep their hands on key seastaff, and there is even talk of the risk of a pay spiral, with pay increases awarded more than once a year.

On the most recent authoritative figures available — compiled by BIMCO and the International Shipping Federation — world officer supply in 2005 was put at 466,000, representing a 2% shortfall on numbers demanded, which would be manageable in principle.

But disparities are far greater in some specific skill sets, and an unpublished report from the International Maritime Employers’ Committee last year claimed that these had reached “formidable” proportions in some instances.

In some instances, IMEC added, seafarers sacked for not being up to the job or for having poor attitudes were instantly being hired by other operators, desperate to find whoever they could to sail their ships.

According to research from Nautilus UK, the British officers’ union, members serving on eight key sectors — container, cruise, ferry, research, standby, supply, tankers and Ministry of Defence vessels — have seen average salary increases of almost 7% in this year’s pay round. Rises have come in at up to 12%-13%, with tankers and offshore leading the pack. This compares to a figure of 3.7% across the UK economy as a whole for the final quarter of last year, revealed in a report by the research outfit Industrial Relations Services.

Nautilus UK assistant general secretary Mark Dickinson said the trend highlights the need for shipping to address the issue of ensuring the future of its skills base, a matter that has been rising up the agenda in recent years. “There is increasing information to show the extent to which the shipowners’ historic lack of any manpower strategy has come back to haunt the industry,” he said.

While the skills shortage is giving short-term benefits to British seafarers, he is concerned that pay increases will serve simply as a stop-gap measure.

But some employers are coming up with major improvements to terms and conditions. One unnamed European technical crew manager was said to have recently switched 6,500 staff to permanent employment contracts, with pensions, leave and study leave.

According to Nautilus, Britain’s Carisbrooke Shipping has offered officers 10% upfront on pay for a two-year deal. The company declined to comment on the suggestion, saying only that agreement had yet to be reached.

Graham Rogers, manpower services director at Monaco-based shipmanagement giant V.Ships, said that settlements at his company — which sets pay scales internally rather than by negotiations with unions — tended to be at least 7%-8% in 2007, and as high as 15% and 25% for some nationalities serving on specialist vessel types such as chemtankers. “The wages we propose at the beginning of the year are not necessarily those on which we’ll finish the year,” he said, and predicted continued increases for 2008.

But some employers are reporting smaller rises. Ian Sherwood of UK-based labour supply company Delta Marine, and a key employer-side negotiator in the International Bargaining Forum, said that this year’s pay award for its predominantly British and European officers had been 4.7%. This represented the second year of a two-year inflation-plus settlement.

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Shipbuilding looks for fresh blood as retirement looms

Postby The Dieselduck » Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:24 pm

Shipbuilding looks for fresh blood as retirement looms
Shipyards across Europe are opening their doors to the next generation of workers
Craig Eason, 26 February 2008 Lloyds List

RECRUITMENT into shipbuilding is a big problem and one that is to be tackled head on in early April at a week-long series of activities around Europe.

With shipyards in Europe admitting difficulty in meeting delivery deadlines due to a lack of skilled labour, and the region’s shipbuilding industry threatened by Asian supremacy, Shipyard Week is an opportunity for yards and sub-contractors to put energy into recruitment and emphasize that clusters have a future.

Shipyard Week is organised through the Community of European Shipyard Associations, the European Metalworkers’ Federation and the EU Social Dialogue project, and aims to promote shipbuilding and attract people to follow a career in the industry.

Henk van Beers, regional director for shipbuilding at Dutch trade union CNV, is the 2008 president of the European Social Dialogue. He was jointly responsible for a previous Shipbuild Week in 2006, which saw youngsters visit shipyards and other maritime engineering companies in the Netherlands to see what future a career in the industry could hold for them.

Although successful, he thinks there is still a lot of work to be done. “In 10 years time more than 20% of the industry will retire. We need thousands of people. We need to double and double with every year,” he said.

It is Europe’s technical expertise that will see yards survive the end of the current shipbuilding boom, he said, and this is why a drive for recruitment is important.

“Orderbooks will go down, but look at the market. There will be a longer demand for specialist ships, like dredgers, cruiseships and specialist tugboats. This is a better position than container vessels and tankers.”

But to attract the next generation of architects, engineers and other specialists means making the image attractive to today’s student.

CESA secretary-general Reinhard Lüken is adamant that the industry is wrong to think it has a bad image. “For the wider public we simply have no image. Let’s stop saying we have a bad image. It’s a self-fulfilling philosophy. Let’s talk about shipbuilding fascination.”

He wants to use Shipyard Week to demonstrate how exciting it is to be part of a project to construct one of the largest, most complex products regularly built.

“There’s nothing to compare it too,” he said. “If you look at the Genesis project, it’s the same as building a town for 8,000 people with everything included; from waste management and water production, to energy provision and entertainment. The list is endless.”

Shipyard Week is an opportunity for all the shipyards in Europe to open their doors, a week long open-day to have a co-ordinated promotion and recruitment drive.

In the Netherlands, the industry’s plans include taking university students and schoolchildren to inspirational seminars and visits to yards, including one of the luxury yacht builders in Rotterdam, Oceanco.

Mr Lüken’s belief that the general public has no opinion of the shipbuilding industry may not be shared by everyone, but getting people interested in a career within the industry is a challenge.

“The time of the bad image is over,” said Mr van Beers, who wants to ensure that the next generation gets a valued education, valid qualifications and a good career. “Five years ago shipyards were doing nothing, they saw the end. Now there is a sense of urgency to get the youngsters into the shipyards.

“Getting young people educated is one of the three main topics in the industry,” he said.

“Look at the Dutch companies, they are all international so there is a good future for trainees to get a job as a project manager around the world. There are good career opportunities now.”

It is not only the shipyards that need to be active in recruiting, says Mr Lüken. The sub-contractors, engineering and IT companies, which provide more than halfthe workforce seen in today’s ship-building projects, need to be equally as involved.


Labour shortages begin to bite at Aker Yards
26 February 2008 Lloyds List

THE CONFESSION by Aker Yards in Finland that it cannot meet the delivery deadlines for its ferry orderbook has highlighted the tip of a growing problem at shipyards and maritime clusters across Europe, writes Craig Eason.

Aker Yards said some of its problems stem from subcontractors and the yard itself not having enough skilled labour, and subsequently some of the work not being up to scratch. The yard employs 35 nationalities, with more than 2,000 contractors on site for the construction of a single ferry or cruiseship.

This inability to recruit is a big problem for a European industry that is competing against cheaper, faster yards in Asia that are eyeing the lucrative markets for cruiseships, ferries and offshore vessels.

The European clusters are now acting to protect their shipbuilding, to preserve the technical expertise they say exists, and to ensure the yards have a future. A key area lies in attracting the next generation of naval architects and engineers. It is not only Aker, Fincantieri and Damen that need to do this, but also the suppliers of systems and services, the architects and engineers from subcontracting companies associated with a new build project.

Press reports in Finland hinted recently at tension between Aker and some of the subcontractors, due to rumoured delays to cruiseship deliveries in addition to the delays to ferry deliveries at the group’s three Finnish yards. These reports caused Aker Yards to state that delivery dates for its biggest project, the two Genesis cruise ships, remain unchanged.

Whether or not the company can keep one ship on schedule while the majority of its others suffer delays, the yard and its subcontractors still have a problem with skills levels and recruitment.

Aker Yards president of cruise and ferry in Finland, Juha Heikinheimo, refused to be drawn into a discussion about the cruiseship projects, or the relationship with subcontractors. But he said that “what is important is that the shipyard and the customer, along with our partners and subcontractors, communicate well. Subcontractors are important to us, now and in the future”.

But he recognised that there are issues across the Finnish maritime cluster with recruiting enough young people into the industry. “We have a strategy and a big programme for training,” he said.

Finland has a small but ageing population, and recruiting from a decreasing pool continues to be a problem for an industry that relies on a relatively high number of skilled workers.

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An eighties revival

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:36 pm

An eighties revival
27 February 2008 Lloyds List

FOR 30 years, the frequency of accidents in shipping has been decreasing. Not any more. Not even close. Accidents have doubled over the past five years, taking casualty rates back to the same level as the late 1980s. It seems the efforts of the past 20 years were all for nothing. All progress wiped out in one brief party of booming market urgency and outright negligence towards safety standards.

A picture of crews working flat out and running with increasing frequency into serious operational problems is now an accepted given across the global shipping industry.

The latest slew of ‘alarming’ class society figures only serve to confirm what we know has been happening. The short supply of quality crew, the increasingly difficult retention problems, faster promotion — it is a well-rehearsed vicious circle. And the situation is not going to be rectified by the continued insistence that focusing on hardware and systems will magically make these problems disappear. While there is much good work happening out there, human and organisational factors still play second fiddle to the priority of building stronger ships that are harder to sink.

In any other industry, the doubling of accidents would be deemed unacceptable and generate a public outcry while simultaneously incurring the wrath of regulators. Without immediate attention, the shipping industry risks losing any remaining credibility it has in the eyes of the public. This is indeed a matter of corporate and social responsibility for the entire industry.


----
all I have to say is too bad we don't see the big paychecks they use to have back then. Along with the bigger crews to share the increased workload.

Martin

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Shell recruits US officers for LNGs

Postby The Dieselduck » Fri May 09, 2008 10:40 am

Shell recruits US officers for LNGs

SHELL Ship Management is to hire US licensed officers for its 25 new internationally-flagged LNG tankers, with a pact signed yesterday with the American Maritime Officers (AMO) union. Both groups credited US Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton with helping to forge the deal, which AMO President Tom Bethel told Fairplay had been under consideration for three years. “We already have a cadre of officers with LNG endorsements,” Bethel said.

Connaughton then told Fairplay that efforts will be made to expand the number of graduates from US maritime academies – which now stands at about 700 a year – to meet demand. “There are a lot of young Americans showing increasing interest in working at sea,” he said, contrasting the trend with Europe and Asia where fewer candidates are seeking seagoing billets.

Each LNG tanker has a complement of 12-14 officers with 22 crew aboard. “This crewing MOU represents sound public policy – increased safety, security and improved transportation efficiencies – and opens up vital employment opportunities for US officers in the LNG industry,” said Connaughton.

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Shell recruits US officers for LNGs

Postby The Dieselduck » Tue May 13, 2008 1:36 pm

Shell recruits US officers for LNGs
Fairplay 01 May 2008

SHELL Ship Management is to hire US licensed officers for its 25 new internationally-flagged LNG tankers, with a pact signed yesterday with the American Maritime Officers (AMO) union. Both groups credited US Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton with helping to forge the deal, which AMO President Tom Bethel told Fairplay had been under consideration for three years. “We already have a cadre of officers with LNG endorsements,” Bethel said.

Connaughton then told Fairplay that efforts will be made to expand the number of graduates from US maritime academies – which now stands at about 700 a year – to meet demand. “There are a lot of young Americans showing increasing interest in working at sea,” he said, contrasting the trend with Europe and Asia where fewer candidates are seeking seagoing billets.

Each LNG tanker has a complement of 12-14 officers with 22 crew aboard. “This crewing MOU represents sound public policy – increased safety, security and improved transportation efficiencies – and opens up vital employment opportunities for US officers in the LNG industry,” said Connaughton.


I wonder if the crew hired will be making AMO wages or some sort of modify sliding wage scale that the brits like so much.

- martin


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