Preliminary results from a new survey being carried out as part of the BIMCO/Intemational Chamber of Shipping (ICS) Manpower Report 2015 suggest that most seafarers are content with life at sea.
BIMCO is directly engaging seafarers in order to understand their views on life at sea and the outlook for the industry’s manpower in the years ahead.
The survey of seafarers is the first of the targeted surveys for this year’s report. More than 500 seafarers have already responded to the survey, representing over 40 nationalities.
Timely wage payments and career promotion opportunities were the most popular responses when seafarers were asked about the important factors that influenced their decisions to stay with their current employers.
Sixty-six per cent of the seafarers who responded estimated that it would take them less than three months to secure another job in the industry if they chose to leave their current company.
Higher basic pay and better internet access were the most popular responses when seafarers were asked to name improvements in conditions at sea over the past two years.
BIMCO says that, having provided seafarers with an opportunity to provide insight on seafaring as a career, one of the trends that resonated in the responses was the importance and value of the training and skills that come with being a maritime professional. To quote one response: “Life at sea is exciting, challenging and very educational. The skills that anyone can receive from this job cannot be compared to anything else ashore.”
The BIMCQ/ICS Manpower Report, which has been published every five years since 1990, has traditionally been based on two main quantitative data sources from which the current seafarer supply and demand situation is estimated: a questionnaire completed by shipping companies and a questionnaire completed by national maritime administrations.
In addition to those sources, the new Manpower Report will also ask for the opinions of a wider number of maritime professionals with knowledge of the sharp end of the manpower supply situation, including seafarers, lecturers at maritime education and training institutions, manning agents, maritime unions, and port welfar^workers.
Regular surveys have also been launched by the seafarers’ social media platform, Crewtoo, to monitor seafarers’ satisfaction with their lives at sea with reference to the new Crewtoo Seafarers’ Happiness Index.
Crewtoo says its first report using its new index shows a seafarer satisfaction level of 6.42 on a scale of 1 to 10 for key issues including: general happiness; contact with family; shore leave; wage levels; food; fitness and health; training; interaction on board; workload, and access to welfare facilities.
“It is all well and good to talk about seafarers and the realities of life at sea, but until now there has been very little confirmation as to how seafarers actually feel about their jobs”, said Anneley Pickles, head of Crewtoo business development.
Crewtoo’s first report showed that the issues that concerned seafarers the most included the need for onboard internet access, the risk of stress and fatigue from increasing workloads, and the lack of shore leave. For example, seafarers mentioned that internet access on board “makes life at sea easier” and a number of respondents expressed the concern that “if connectivity does not become common on vessels, the industry might be unable to attract any new seafarers in the future”.