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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Maritime employment a priority for the U.K.’s EU presidency

“The shipping industry cannot raise its game unless it sorts out its employment problem,” said the UK Minister for Shipping, Dr Stephen Ladyman, this week at the session on maritime employment during Seatrade’s London International Maritime Convention. 

The session, organised as part of the U.K.’s presidency of the European Union (EU), highlighted the issues of age and of the origin of our seafarers. Professor James McConville of LondonMetropolitanUniversity pointed out that the average age of the EU seafarer is over 40. The age profile of U.K. marine officers, which peaks in numbers between 45 and 60 years, is in fact totally different from the norm, which peaks at 25-45 years, he said. In addition, whereas currently over 40% of senior officers in the UK fleet come from OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, 57% of junior officers in the EU fleet now come from outside the EU. “Does the industry want EU seafarers?” he asked. “And how do we ensure the quality of the emerging workforce?”

Fotis Karamitsos, the European Commission’s Director of the Maritime Transport and Intermodality, asserted that more effort is needed in the promotion of the shipping industry, while the U.K Department of Transport’s Sue Killen pointed to the need to see the friendly face of the industry, the need to break down prejudices, the need to improve working conditions.  

Knud Pontoppidan, Executive Vice-President of AP Moller-Maersk, added that the industry needs consistency and a long-term, shipping-friendly regulatory framework in order to get good people (both land- and sea-based) and keep them. He stressed the importance of maintaining our maritime know-how. 

The conclusion was that if we do not make it work then we will simply become the customers of other nations’ shipping expertise. . However, no attempt was made to establish what the demand for qualified EU staff would be in the future in the maritime industry – either ashore or afloat. It is difficult to see how a solution can be found for a problem if it cannot be defined. 

Contact: Bill Box