The global supply and demand for seafarers in 2015
The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have issued their once in every five-year report on the manpower situation in the global shipping industry as of 2015.
This report is based on data gathered from surveys of countries supplying seafarers, major companies employing seafarers, industry experts, sample seafarers, maritime education and training institutions (METIs), manning agents, and maritime unions.
The following points are relevant to the Philippines:
1. China has overtaken the Philippines as overall top supplier of seafarers. China is now ranked as number one supplier of officers while the Philippines is the top source for ratings.
2. The world currently has a deficit of 16,500 for officers which might increase to 92,000 by 2020 and 147,500 by 2025. As of 2015, there is an oversupply of 119,000 for ratings.
3. The supply-demand forecast indicates the steady supply of officers will be unable to outpace the increase in the global demand for officers.
4. There is a more significant shortage of Engineer Officer – Management level and officers for specialized ships such as LPG, LNG carriers and chemical tankers.
What are the implications of the BIMCO/ICS Manpower Report 2015?
Reclaiming the Philippines’ position as the world’s largest supplier of shipboard manpower may not come easy in the light of China’s population and its global economic influence in the shipping industry. Moreover, there is full government support for METIs and their students are supported by a large fleet flying the PROC flag, among other factors.
There may be a need to rebrand the Philippines as the world’s source of a corps of seafarers that meets the technical and commercial needs of the ship owners. The Report will provide the guide on how to rebrand the Filipino seafarers by looking at what needs to be supplied, i.e. officers at the Deck – Management, Deck – Operations and Engineer – Management levels. Per POEA statistics, Philippine officers at management levels are in the following age brackets: 31-40 years old (26.4%); 41-50 years old (34%); and 51-60 years old (32.8%).
Aside from enhancing maritime and training of Filipino seafarers, our METIs should refocus their curriculum and training standards to meet the requirements for LNG carriers and chemical tankers and other specialized ships including cruise liners. Furthermore, the government should provide support for the METIs to open new berths aboard ships to train Filipino seafarers for these specialized ships.
One of our advantages, as indicated in the Report, is that the Filipino seafarers prefer to stay in the profession longer than the average 5 to 10 years. This would provide comfort for the ship owners who need to ensure the continued trading of their ships to recover the cost of their investments.