Launched in July, the new Seafarer Workforce Report from BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping cautions that the industry must considerably boost training and recruitment levels to avoid an acute shortage in the total supply of officers by 2026. Due to the growing demand for STCW certified officers, this Report forecasts that there will be a lack of an extra 89,510 officers by 2026 to operate the international merchant fleet. Currently 1.89 million seafarers serve the international merchant fleet, operating over 74,000 vessels around the globe.
The Seafarer Workforce Report by BIMCO and ICS is published every five years. Therefore, shipping management companies, seafarer labor service companies, shipping organizations, shipping schools, and major shipping industry media are paying great attention.
In addition, the new report highlights a the ongoing lack of 26,240 STCW certified officers, indicating that demand for seafarers in 2021 has exceeded supply. Despite the fact that there has been a 10.8% growth in the supply of sea officers since 2015, this shortage could be due to a reported increase in officers required on board vessels.
Furthermore, some categories of officers are especially lacking. There is a shortage of officers with technical experience particularly at Management Level, and in the tanker and offshore sectors there is a reported deficit of Management Level Deck Officers.
The good news is that over the past five years, the industry has made significant strides in reducing officer turnover from 8% to 6%, retaining skilled seafarers, and increasing the number of years they serve at the sea. Definitely, related to estimates from the 2015 data, the average age of officers serving at the command and operational levels has increased.
The Report also highlights changes in the diversity of seafarers' workforce by analyzing a wide array of demographic data, including age, nationality and gender. The latest statistics exhibit that there is a positive trend in the gender balance, with approximately 24,059 women working as seafarers, up 45.8% from the 2015 report. The percentage of female seafarers with STCW certification is about to be 1.28% of the world's total seafarers, and there appears to be a significant increase in the number of women certified by STCW compared to the previous period. At the same time, women's ratings are found mainly in the sectors of cruise ships and passenger ferries. The number of female officers is more evenly distributed across sectors.