Shortages of crew can strengthen the hand of those who actually choose a seafaring job, Danica Crewing Specialist CEO Henrik Jensen said during a media interview at Posidonia, one of the world’s largest shipping events.

“Ninety percent of seafarers are checking the vacancies of other companies when they’re on holidays,” he told Tradewinds reporter Harry Papachristou in Athens.

“They look around, they understand — if they see too much of a wage gap, they jump ship or they go back to their owners and say, ‘What can you offer me’?”

Shipping companies are increasingly aware of that risk and are trying to address it. According to Mr Jensen, seafarer retention has been an increasingly important factor in ship owners’ minds lately.

“It’s not just the number of people you need - you also need the people with the right competencies,” he said. “The situation is manageable for ratings, but for officers, there is a shortage of competent people.”

When leaders in the shipping industry discuss the issue of seafarer shortages, they often attribute it to geopolitical factors. According to Mr Jensen, however, there are other, deeper forces at play. The first is the constant rise of skill requirements set by regulators and charterers.

“You need officers of a higher calibre to deal with such things,” said Jensen, adding that modern education often neglects key aspects of seafaring.

“A lot of the training is just about complying with the rules … but we need more leadership training because we also need people who can lead and think,” he said.

He added: “As the middle class in such countries rises, young people get more offers in technology and the IT industry — there are many offers for young people and the competition for young talent is high.”

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