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The future of seafaring: Addressing the future of the Philippines

The future of seafaring: Addressing the future of the Philippines
Ambassador Carlos Salinas August 18, 2021

Recent maritime news reports again portend of an even bigger projected shortage of officers in the next five years, as presented in the new Seafarer Workforce Report, launched last July 28, by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). This new report, issued every five years is an update to the Manpower Report released in 2015.

In the 2015 report's estimate, there were about 1.89 million seafarers in the world merchant fleet, operating over 74,000 vessels. That number has risen by 10.8 percent since then, and now shows an anticipated shortfall of 26,240 officers that will be felt in the coming years. The current study projects that the continued growth of the maritime industry will result in the largest shortage of officers in more than a decade: in short, nearly 90,000 more officers will be needed by 2026 to run the world's merchant fleet.

BIMCO and ICS stress the need to intensify recruiting and training of maritime professionals to meet such continuing long-term needs, particularly for officers. Talent management has become a by-word across all industries, and the maritime sector is no exception where having the ability to understand and better manage factors such as turnover, the aging of the seafarer population, as well as supply and demand trends over the next five years have become part of a dynamic equation.

To meet this even larger future demand for seafarers, ICS Secretary General Guy Platten asserts that "it is vital that the industry actively promotes careers at sea and enhances maritime education and training worldwide, with a focus on the diverse skills needed for a greener and more digitally connected industry. We will need to address the real concerns that we could see seafarers turning away from careers in shipping. We must analyze and respond to trends in seafarer retention, and continue regular monitoring of the global seafarer workforce."

The Philippines remains one of the top suppliers of seafarers to the global merchant fleet. In the 2015 BIMCO Manpower Report, "the Philippines ranked first for ratings and second for officers with 363,832 Filipino seafarers deployed to ocean-going merchant vessels in 2014, accounting for 28% of the global supply of seafarers."