Major officer shortfall in regional maritime sector

Lack of well-qualified seagoing & shore-based personnel to be debated at 2015 Seatrade Offshore Marine & Work Boats conference.
Dr Martin Renilson, Dean, Maritime, Higher Colleges of Technology.
Dr Martin Renilson, Dean, Maritime, Higher Colleges of Technology.


Challenges in recruiting and retaining experienced seagoing and shore-based personnel will be highlighted at this year’s Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats Middle East 2015, which will take place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 5-7 October.

The region’s leading event for the workboat and offshore marine industries, the biennial three-day conference and exhibition will once again address the hot topics and issues facing the industry with people and performance a major consideration for any owner, operator or employer.

The scale of the issue is significant. “The increasingly severe shortage of seafarers and its future impact on the global maritime industry has long been discussed and even back in 2005, the BIMCO / ISF Manpower Update 2005 forecast a shortage of 27,000 maritime officers worldwide by 2015,” said Dr Martin Renilson, Dean, Maritime, Higher Colleges of Technology.

The dedicated forum session taking place on the afternoon of day 2 of the conference, ‘The Human Element’ will focus on the strategies required to tackle the growing shortage of suitably trained and experienced seagoing personnel available to workboat operators in Gulf waters. The session will also address rising concern about the lack of shore-based marine personnel, which includes well-trained surveyors, within the region.

With more than 90% of global trade dependent on shipping, the worldwide shortage of well-qualified seafarers and, specifically for the Gulf region, the ongoing challenge of deploying the right seagoing personnel for specific projects, is adding to the pressure being put on the industry to address the recruitment challenge.

And this is being further exacerbated by the need for a proactive recruitment drive targeted at a younger career-seeking audience, for whom the maritime industry holds little or no appeal due to the long hours and relative isolation of a sea-going role.

“Investment into marine assets and new service facilities for offshore vessels and other types of workboats is often the priority, but the need to put in place highly skilled personnel, and teams, to operate these vessels safely and effectively is often a lower priority, yet is essential to the overall commercial success of any operation,” Dr Renilson.

“This session is not only timely but presents an invaluable opportunity for leading industry practitioners to flag the issues they are facing in their own sphere of operation and, together with their peers, discuss and debate solutions to recruiting and developing the requisite talent,” he added.

According to Dr Renilson, civil engineering projects, new port developments, land reclamation and offshore energy exploration and production are all key drivers of workboat demand in Gulf waters. Additionally, offshore service vessels of various types are becoming more complex with a higher degree of automation and more advanced station-keeping ability, which, in turn, requires an increasingly skilled operating team.

“More skilled operators means increased training costs as well as higher salary packages and a more competitive employment marketplace, yet this is still not being reflected in day rates, and there is obvious pressure to change in order to attract the best people for the job,” he noted.

The two-hour session will be moderated by Joe Brincat, Vice President Middle East, ABS, with a series of four technical presentations followed by an interactive audience Q&A opportunity.

Session speakers include Omar Abu Omar, COO, TASNEEF; Capt. Sunil Chaudhary, Founder-Director, CS Offshore; Ian Hugo, Regional Managing Director, Middle East & Subcontinent, Smit Lamnalco; and Dr Martin Renilson, Dean Maritime, Higher Colleges of Technology.

Other sessions this year include a Leaders’ Forum; the Seatrade Technology Forum; a Finance Forum as well as two special regional ‘power hours’ about operational issues in the Caspian with another dedicated to Africa.

The 2015 event is set to build on the success of the 2013 exhibition and conference, which generated US$850 million in onsite orders; welcomed almost 5,000 participants (a 46% increase over 2011) from 54 countries, 211 exhibiting companies and increased its floor space by 8% to nearly 4,000 square metres. The 2015 showcase has already sold 80% of the 4,680 square metres of exhibition space reserved this year, signing up over 165 exhibitors to date.

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