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Working at Sea: Recruitment Challenges

Working at Sea: Recruitment Challenges
July 18, 2018

The expansion of the cruise industry over the next decade brings great career opportunities for many seafarers, but also recruitment challenges for the cruise lines, according to Lena Dyring, assistant director, cruise operations, Norwegian Seafarers’ Union (NSU). She said that guests’ satisfaction ratings depend on interactions with crew. And new ships also require highly skilled seafarers who can manage the technical advancements.

In terms of sourcing crew, the NSU does not think there will be significant changes in the nationalities of future crew other than some adjustments related to new markets cruise lines are moving in to. For instance, the Chinese market requires a certain number of Chinese-speaking crew members, Dyring noted. Overall, she believes there will be more seafarers from countries where the cruise lines are already hiring from.

However, according to Dyring, a huge untapped resource for cruise lines is the recruitment of women. She said the percentage of women seafarers is still very low – especially in the more technical roles. “It is a paradox that women graduates from maritime colleges in many countries have problems getting the necessary sea time to get and maintain their licenses while the industry overall is struggling to recruit for these same roles,” she told Cruise Industry News.

“Many companies offer the necessary training and education so that seafarers can seek new roles and be promoted internally,” Dyring said. “In this regard, we think it is important that the cruise lines ensure they have sufficient cadet berths and that women seafarers hold a significant portion of these roles. When the training period is over, seafarers need to know that they have a promising career path in the company if they are successful.”

Continuous training and development aboard is also very important to retain seafarers and make sure they have successful, long term careers in the company, she added. This includes continuous training of management in order to ensure a positive attitude toward crew and create a friendly working environment.

“The days of the ‘my way or the gangway’ attitude toward managing people really should be numbered at this point. However, we clearly see that this attitude is still alive and well in some places from the feedback we get from seafarers. These same seafarers also often say they are actively looking for other opportunities with a different company. This is a shame, because it does take a lot of time and investment to train a good seafarer – in any role on the ship.

“In our interactions with seafarers we see that the cruise lines that are willing to invest in successful HR strategies and departments – both shoreside and on the ship – are the ones that come out on top and the ones where the seafarers want to work.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Summer 2018