A campaign to address the global shortage of seafarers, especially officers, which threatens the very future of the international shipping industry, has been launched by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in association with the International Labour Organization, the “Round Table” of shipping organizations – BIMCO, ICS/ISF, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO1 – and the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
The campaign calls on governments, industry and IMO, supported by ILO and other international organizations, to take specific actions, within their areas of influence, to increase the recruitment of seafarers to tackle the problem.
A recent report issued by maritime industry analysts Drewry Shipping Consultants assessed the current shortfall of officers in the global shipping fleet to be some 34,000, against a total requirement of 498,000. Moreover, based on Drewry’s fleet growth projections, and the assumption that officer supply will only increase at the current rate, the report predicts that, by 2012, the officer shortfall will have grown to 83,900.
“As everyone in shipping is aware, the global shortage of seafarers, especially officers, has already reached significant proportions and is now a source of genuine concern to all involved in the industry,” said IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, speaking at the launch of the campaign.
The shipping industry can provide the basis for a fulfilling and satisfying life-long career and the problem is one of recruitment, rather than retention in the profession, he added, noting that this required a shift in the public perception of shipping, particularly amongst the young.
“I have long been an advocate of the need to promote the industry and improve its public image. Outside the industry itself, the wider public has little conscious perception of the vital role that shipping plays in everyday life and this, clearly, needs to change,” Mr. Mitropoulos said, adding that all the organizations associated with the ‘Go to Sea!’ campaign were united in wanting to address concerns over the future supply of quality manpower to the shipping industry and in taking positive steps for that purpose.