Talent Acquisition Strategies for the Offshore Marine Sector

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For those of you who have been experiencing talent acquisition challenges in the off-shore marine sector, you might take some comfort in the fact that you are not alone in this struggle. Talent acquisition is an industry-wide challenge for the offshore marine sector. 

BIMCO, the world’s largest international shipping association, recently released their 5-year BIMCO/IC manpower report, which highlights the marine sector’s talent shortage problem. The report reveals a 2.1% shortfall in seafarers, which currently amounts to around 16,500 officers. Specific talent shortage areas were identified, and these were engineering officers at manager level and officers on specialist ships such as chemical, LNG and LPG carriers. This talent acquisition gap is expected to widen over the next few years as demand is forecast to outstrip supply. Unless the industry can significantly boost recruitment and training levels and reduce officer wastage, the researchers are predicting a global shortage of nearly 150,000 seafaring workers by 2025.  

Marine sector employers must take steps now to secure their skills pipeline, and here are 6 talent acquisition strategies that could make a difference in your business.

1. Develop and Promote Your Employee Value Proposition

Maritime employers should utilize their unique employer value proposition during the hiring and employer branding process. Employee Benefits magazine recently highlighted that despite the dangerous and sometimes remote location, many people are attracted to the flexible schedule, good pay & benefits and diverse and interesting nature of off-shore work, and the opportunity to live where they like. They conducted a Case Study on CEONA, (an offshore installation group) and the CEONA representative was clear that pay and holidays, (employees get up to 6 months leave) were major attractions for hew hires, along with the ability to see the world and experience different cultures.

Expectations around working conditions are rising too: marine workers won’t accept cramped living conditions any more, they want similar conditions to what they get in normal life. CEONA now offer gym facilities, cinemas and internet cafes on their ships. By modernizing and promoting your unique employer value proposition your talent acquisition and retention process will be enhanced.

2. Utilize Facebook For Social Hiring 

Accepted wisdom suggests that Linked-in is the best social platform for talent recruitment, but certain studies suggest that Facebook could be a better social hiring tool for the marine sector. Fredrik Tukk, Head of Communications at the Danish offshore drilling company, Maersk discovered that drillers use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family and as a result developed a hugely successful candidate outreach campaign via this platform. It could be worth researching and attempting to connect with your target market in the marine sector via Facebook.

3. Directly promote your maritime careers with Universities

In the report Minding the Skills Gap by the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology (IMAREST), organizations are urged to reach out to universities and other HE providers in order to promote the value and benefits of maritime careers. The aerospace, automotive and construction industries have all benefited from delivering industrial charm offensives to the HE sector.

4. Investment in training and apprenticeships

According to the IMAREST report around half of employers believed that graduates were not ready for work and were lacking industrial experience and soft skills. This is reducing the graduate talent pool for smaller employers who lack the big company, in-house ‘graduate training programme’. IMAREST is urging smaller organizations to take responsibility for training talent too, and not wait for ‘second jobbers’ who have been conveniently trained elsewhere. By training graduates or apprentices, (for which there are now significant financial incentives), the barrier to entry for job applicants will be lowered making it easier for smaller organizations to hire STEM talent.

5. Offer Industrial Placement Years and Work Experience

By offering to house one or more students for a year in industry as part of a 4 year degree, you can gain early access to talent, and cherry pick the best for employment at the end of their degree. It’s a great networking opportunity too, as work placement students will most likely be able to introduce you to friends on their course too. 

Finally, as we’ve researched this area, it’s become clear that many of the answers to the offshore marine sector’s talent acquisition problems reside with industrial associations, lobby groups, the government and educational establishments. For example,  British marine member companies have not been able to fill vacancies because such positions are not included on the government’s shortage occupation list. (SOL) Maritime courses are under-represented at universities, accounting for just 2% of engineering courses at university. They produce around 8,000 a year fewer graduates than the Oil and Gas sector. But, putting aside these structural issues with the sector, we have shown there are steps that off-shore marine organizations can take to mitigate the skills gap.

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