German marine and offshore equipment suppliers with now 76,000 employees achieved sales of €11.9 billion in 2007, over 13.8 % up on the previous year. The export rate was 73 %. The sector could thus maintain and expand its leading role for high tech systems for worldwide shipping and shipbuilding. The increasing appreciation of lifecycle costs in companies and among the general public promises further benefits for German marine and offshore equipment makers, as in this area the R&D departments are looking well prepared into the future.
Though overshadowed by the big three Asian shipbuilding countries, the European shipyard industry is currently performing well. In 2007, 4,851 (previous year: 3,329) oceangoing vessels were ordered worldwide, including 606 (603) in Japan, 1,231 (692) in South Korea, 1,700 (881) in China and 422 (419) in the EU 27 countries, including 61 (65) in Germany. Global orders on hand for ships soared from 6,908 to a record 10,055 units last year. An end to this overheating could become apparent in 2008, as the flood of new orders clearly declined in the first few months, probably also due to saturation effects and capacity bottlenecks at shipyards, suppliers and shipping lines themselves.
German suppliers accordingly did 39 % of their foreign business in Asia and 34 % in other European countries in 2007. China is the largest foreign market, claiming 25.7 % of foreign orders, well ahead of Korea with a share of 10.5%. The sales market North America accounted for 6.9 % of orders and the Middle East 6.4 %. Norway’s share of business grew to 4.8 %, while Eastern Europe remained at its previous year’s level of 4.1 %.
A considerable bottleneck is currently the lack of experts in engineering across all faculties and to an increasing extent skilled workers and service personnel. The significant share of 7 % new hirings in 2007 could even be exceeded this year if there were not such a shortage of suitable staff. Companies are therefore increasingly helping themselves - marine equipment suppliers, mainly small/mid-sized firms, are hiring more and more young people straight from school in the dual study system.