The shipping industry must significantly increase recruitment and training levels if it is to avoid a serious shortage in the number of officers by 2026, warn BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) in the Seafarer Workforce Report.


Previously known as the Manpower Report, the Seafarer Workforce Report predicts that there will be a need for an additional 89,510 officers by 2026 to operate the world merchant fleet, given the growing demand for STCQ-certified officers. The report estimates that 1.89 million seafarers currently serve the world merchant fleet, operating over 74,000 vessels around the globe.

The new report also highlights a current shortfall of 26,240 STCW-certified officers, indicating that demand for seafarers in 2021 has outpaced supply. Although there has been a 10.8 percent increase in the supply of officers since 2015, this shortfall could be due to a reported increase in officers needed onboard vessels, with an average of 1.4 officers required per berth.

In addition, some officer categories are in especially short supply. There is a shortage of officers with technical experience especially at management level. In the tanker and offshore sectors, there is a reported shortage of management level deck officers.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the ICS, said: “To meet the future demand for seafarers 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. This is especially important as we recover from the effects of the pandemic, and we will need to address the real concerns that we could see seafarers turning away from careers in shipping.

“We must analyse and respond to trends in seafarer retention, and continue regular monitoring of the global seafarer workforce, to ensure that the supply of STCW-certified seafarers continues to keep pace with demand.”