"Whilst 85% of all seafarers will remain at sea for the majority of their working lives and never make the transition from sea to shore, the survey shows that seafarers are far more attracted by the professions to which they have had some contact in their day to day work."
Operations managers, surveyors, fleet managers and harbourmasters all feature in the working lives of seafarers. However, how many seafarers, however, had to deal with a shipbroker or insurer? These professions can seem extremely remote to the average seafarer. But the reality is that all of these professions do need ex-mariners in their offices. People that do understand the realities of life at sea and what is and isn’t possible are important. It is, of course, difficult to make a sideways career step, but in the long term, it can be a very good move. It is important that companies in areas of the maritime business that are less obvious and less visible to the average seafarer, but are looking for ex-seafarers to fill some of their key positions, understand that they cannot assume that seafarers have a rounded view of how the international shipping industry fits together and what their company actually does. When marketing their positions to seafarers seeking to come ashore those responsible for recruitment need to understand that a large part of finding the right people is about marketing the company and then clearly and carefully explaining the opportunities that it offers.
For a seafarer used to a hierarchical working life and who has always followed a very defined series of courses and exams to make their career progression up the chain of command, the idea of coming ashore, taking a step sideways and learning a completely new set of skills on the job, can seem extremely daunting and a huge leap into the unknown. It is also important to note that many seafarers do not come from the big commercial shipping centers such as London, New York or Singapore. Their families are based elsewhere, often in more remote locations, so a move ashore can often mean not only an initial drop in take-home salary but also necessitate a move to another part of the country or even another part of the world. The pool therefore of potential experienced officers looking to make a move ashore is always going to be a limited one. However, seafarers should be interested to read that 92% of shoreside workers think it’s at least quite important to have ex-seafarers in the office, whilst 35% say it’s vital. Yet just over half of seafarers, whether western or Asian, think that it’s difficult or very difficult to get a job ashore. To a certain extent, this can be correct. Not every seafarer is cut out for the challenges of a job ashore. For some, the transition to shore life with the stresses and strains of commuting, taxation, office politics, family life and less obvious hierarchal structures can make life at sea too good to leave behind. But those who are perhaps less set in their ways, are able to explain complicated technical issues to a non-technical audience or are able to adapt to a completely new way of working, can find that their skills are very much in demand.
"ENGINEERING OFFICERS THINK IT’S EASIER TO GET A JOB ASHORE COMPARED TO DECK OFFICERS - THE REALITY IS THAT BOTH ARE EXTREMELY EMPLOYABLE."
Our survey showed that serving engineering officers think it is easier to get a job ashore than deck officers do (53% vs 39%). However, this doesn’t reflect the reality. Both engineering and deck officers with the right attitude and aptitudes are extremely employable. The only difference is that the shoreside career path for an engineering officer is more obvious. Deck officers need to do their research and understand the huge range of maritime-related jobs on the market. In the past 12 months alone Faststream has placed many serving deck officers in a huge range of positions from the obvious to the obscure. We asked seafarers what they thought starting salaries were for an officer with 10 to 15 years of seafaring experience coming ashore in a variety of professions. Most of the seafarers hugely underestimated what starting salaries might be.