Today and in the past months, shipping companies, regardless of size, are experiencing financial challenges as a result of the global shipping crisis. The worsening condition of the shipping sector, specifically for container, dry bulk and offshore, result to low freight rates and stagnation of global trade. All of a sudden, global shippers couldn’t fill ships no matter how low they made their rates, because there simply wasn’t enough cargo to go around. We all know that some companies are seeking financial relief, while others have filed for bankruptcy.
The significant changes in the global political and economic landscapes also have repercussions for trade and business, and ultimately, shipping. The chain of events has practically become an issue of survival for all stakeholders. As a crewing manager, it has been equally challenging as ship owners and managers continue to implement ways to reduce costs, including crew wages and benefits reduction, re-organization, downsizing of crew complement and Suspension of Training and Development Initiatives, which used to be a priority so that a pool of skilled, competent and dedicated seafarers is maintained.
Despite the shipping crisis and the delay in vessel deliveries, BIMCO, in their most recent report, said that there is a shortage of officers and the demand will continue to outpace the supply of the global merchant fleet which is also forecasted to continue to grow in the next ten years. If projections are correct, this would mean that in the next 5 years, the industry will be short of 92,000 officers or equivalent to 12% and by 2025, 147, 500.
If stakeholders continue to treat training and development as dispensable, who will be capable of manning these technologically advanced ships? Furthermore, how will we uphold high standards of safety and operations in shipping? As far as vessel operation is concerned, having the right people who can do the job right remains to be the greatest competitive advantage one can have. As we know, the consequences of unsafe shipping are far more costly compared to the investment on training.
The STCW of the Manila Amendments will be in place in January 2017. A seafaring career, however, greatly demands more than the basic and minimum training standards, especially as trade becomes complex and as the world moves toward digitalization. What does this mean for recruitment and training then? For one, this means that there will be difficulties in sourcing quality officers and crew.
If we miss out on important competencies which relate to the ever-changing requirements of regulators and customers, the risks become too great and it will be harder for crew members, owners, managers and operators to keep up to date. This also gives the impression that our industry does not prioritize the continuing growth of seafarers, our most valuable resource. And lastly, this poses a challenge on how the industry can attract the new generation of seafarers who are often described as digital natives.
In our company, we have been privileged enough to work with clients who continue to prioritize the training and development of seafarers. In fact, our company continues to invest heavily in the modernization of schools and training facilities in order to attain and maintain the highest training levels. Efforts must also be placed in the promotion of seagoing careers while at the same time make maritime education and training as attractive and interesting as other disciplines and this we believe can be achieved through innovation.
New technologies provide opportunities for training institutions and crew managers to take advantage of emerging business models and improve recruitment processes. In the same way, they allow students and prospective students to exploit the vast knowledge and information that are now easier to obtain through information technology. This is key because as far as human resource is concerned, we need to be able to supply seafarers whose skills meet the technical requirements of modern vessels and the commercial needs of ship owners and their customers. This we understand is something to be of value not only to ship operations in specific, but also to the wider international shipping community.
We need to remember that we are no longer talking about the movement of goods nor capital, but about our industry’s most valuable resource, who have dreams to be fulfilled, and aspirations to learn and become trained.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
Marlon Rono, President, Magsaysay People Resources Corporation & Executive Chairman, Magsaysay Maritime Corporation
Marlon R. Roño is the President of the Magsaysay People Resources Corporation (MPRC), a company engaged in Manning and Crew Management, Ship Management, International Recruitment and Staffing, Maritime and Technical Skills Training, Hospitality and Culinary Training, Cadet Development and Skills Management Training, Language and Cultural Training, Food Management and Audit, and Onboard Food and Provision Management.
MPRC’s commitment to education, youth development and training has earned the company accolades from Lloyd’s List Global Awards, Seatrade Asia Awards and the Lloyd’s List Maritime Asia Awards.
Marlon also plays an important role in Homer Foundation, Inc., Magsaysay’s corporate social responsibility arm. As the foundation’s President, Marlon has initiated several advocacies that strengthen volunteerism and community development. These tireless, inspiring and sustainable efforts to protect the environment and improve the lives of communities have earned HFI several recognitions from Lloyd’s List Awards, Asian Publishing Awards, ASEAN Business Awards, Seatrade Asia Awards and ASIAN CSR Awards.
Outside the boardrooms of Magsaysay, Marlon sits as the President of the Filipino Association of Mariners Employment (FAME). FAME represents 30% of the manning agencies accredited by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and is committed to ensure high management standards and business ethics. He is also a Director of the Joint Manning Group, the umbrella organization of independent, well-established and long standing maritime and manning associations in the Philippines.