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Survey reveals crew recruitment is more challenging

(Posted on 25/01/24)

Recruitment of seafarers is getting harder according to a survey of crew managers conducted by Danica Crewing Specialists.

Nearly half of those responding reported they are finding it more difficult to recruit crew of the calibre they need for their ships, while more than 70% of crew managers said their job has become more difficult within the past two years.

Meanwhile the survey indicates crew salary costs are rising, which confirms the findings of Danica’s recent Seafarers’ Survey which revealed that pay is up across all ranks. Some 74% of the shipping companies who responded to Danica’s Crew Managers’ Survey said they had increased wages for senior officers over the past year, with more than 60% reporting increased wages for junior officers and senior ratings, while almost 60% had increased wages for ratings. Only 6% of respondents had not adjusted wages over 2023.

Crew managers reported that wages for senior officers are up between 10 to 30%, with junior officer roles attracting salary increases of between 6-15%. Among ratings, salaries for senior ranks have risen 11 to 15% while for junior ratings the increases are between 6-10%.

Looking at retention, just over a third of survey respondents felt their seafarers have become more willing to change employer, while just under a third said they believed they were less willing to move, and 1/3rd reported the situation as the same. More than 80% of crew managers saw salary as the main reason for seafarers switching jobs, chiming with the almost 80% of crew members who said the same in Danica’s 2023 Seafarer Survey.

The crewing survey also revealed that more than a third of shipping companies don’t have a written strategy in place for recruiting and retaining seafarers. Demonstrating the need for a diversified crewing strategy, more than half of the companies responding said they plan to take on more nationalities over 2024.

Henrik Jensen, Danica Crewing Specialists CEO, said: “We thought it would be interesting to see how crew managers evaluate the manning situation and to compare the findings with those of our annual Seafarers’ Survey. The results are interesting and demonstrate how shortages of competent sea staff, particularly in certain ranks, are impacting crewing strategies for shipping firms. It also seems the majority of ship owners and managers are recognising that salary levels need to increase in order to recruit and retain top talent.”

Danica’s survey was conducted among a large group of crew managers and other personnel involved in crewing. It was conducted as a useful comparison to the company’s annual Seafarers’ Survey which received feedback from more than 6,000 crew members. Responses to the Crew Managers’ Survey were received equally from ship owning and ship management companies. The majority of respondents worked in a company where all the functions related to the management of the fleet were conducted in-house. While most respondents were employed within the crewing department, the survey also attracted responses from more than 6% of CEOs and Managing Directors.

Geographically the respondents came from a wide spread of countries but particularly from Greece, Cyprus, Denmark, and Singapore. Most respondents worked in companies with a crew pool of 200-500 seafarers and a fleet of 10 to 25 vessels. All key seafarer nationalities were represented in the crew pools managed by the respondents.

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