"The shipping screams for staff" reads the headline of a TT article that could be read in a lot of Swedish newspapers. It is based on the report "Tempen på Sjöfartbranschen" wich was published by The Swedish Confederation of Transport last week. According to it, the industry faces major challenges. Young peoples interest in maritime education is low, while every sixth employee is between 58-67 years and approaches the retirement age. Over the next five years, approximately 800 people in the professional groups of sailors, engineers and technical and nautical officers need to be recruited. But it is difficult to find competence. Four out of ten companies have had difficulties recruiting for the past year.
So the industry screams, but if not for deaf ears, then at least in the dark. The Lighthouse prestudy ”Kompetensförsörjning inom den svenska marina och maritima näringen” (only in swedish), carried out by researchers at RISE and Chalmers, states that ”the industry needs to be more visual for young people.” The reason why the industry is so unknown to the public has most likely historical reasons as the Swedish shipbuilding industry and the Swedish merchant navy during the 1980’s suffered from shutdowns and loss of tonnage.
So what can be done to increase interest and secure the supply of competence?
First and foremost the public's knowledge of how important shipping is to the economy must be increased. How many even know that 90 percent of all transport goes on water?
- If the shipping industry does not succeed in finding employees, it will negatively affect Swedish exports and imports, which will result in major socio-economic consequences", Caj Louma, head of competence supply at The Swedish Confederation of Transport said in the TT article.
The Lighthouse prestudy suggests that the different marine/maritime education programs seek cooperation in order to widen the awareness of the total marine/maritime industry among the students.
The study does also suggest that the possibility to start industry driven/owned competence centers should be investigated. This type of centers, which have been successful in Norway, should be established in order to get better flexibility among the personnel within the industry and to reinvest competence from experienced to less experienced personnel.