Officer and Crew Shortage Affects Maritime Industry Boom
As the economy continues to heal itself after the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, the maritime industry has been booming along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Both global merchandise trade and demand for energy have increased dramatically, and these trends have sent maritime industry growing at an unprecedented rate. This industrial surge means job security for those already in the industry, as well as increased employment opportunities as more and more jobs become available.
The problem? The industry is getting desperate for applicants as important jobs continue to go unfilled.
The International Maritime Organization released a report in 2010 that estimated shortages of up to 46,000 officers. Since then, employment opportunities have continued to grow while qualified applicants remain scarce as a result of:
- Supply and demand. As more and more vessels are taking to the open water, the demand for qualified crew members and seafaring officers grows exponentially. One cargo ship could require anywhere from 20 to 50 people to successfully sail from port to port.
- Poor or limited training. Gordie Keenan, vice-president of training and credentialing at Higman Marine Services, has been quoted as saying, “Houston has a large port, yet before now, we didn’t have a lot of educational opportunities for people who wanted to enter the business or for professional certification upgrades.” All maritime workers—regardless of experience—need to receive proper safety training to ensure they keep themselves and others safe on the job. Fortunately, new training centers are popping up around Houston that will provide that necessary training without the hassle of long commutes.
- Cumbersome hiring regulations. Many say that new hiring requirements, such as those mandating extra training for all crew members, slows down the process to get onto a ship which delays opportunities for officer advancement. With a quickly aging workforce, this means that positions at the top of the ladder are emptying faster than crews can qualify for them.
Balancing the Equation
Many maritime companies have formed close ties with the United States’ six maritime academies as well as maritime unions in order to fill positions at all levels. While the shortage has not yet forced companies to offer hiring incentives—signing bonuses, additional benefits— the industry continues to keep its eye closely focused on the situation to prevent further shortage increases.
Of course, there is some risk that as the demand for workers pushes wages upward, employers will skimp in other types of spending, such as cutting back on safety supplies and worker training. That’s not a path toward safety.
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You can also help protect friends and family who are already employed offshore by sharing our contact information. If for any reason they become injured on the job, having access to the resources and skills of Attorney Steve Lee can make a difference. Would you rather have them prepared to receive fair compensation for their injuries, or see them drown in medical debt? Help them protect themselves by giving them our number: 713-921-4171.