The BIMCO/ISF 2000 Manpower Update is probably the most comprehensive study of the global supply and demand for merchant seafarers that has so far been undertaken, building on data amassed by earlier studies conducted in 1990 and 1995. This latest report has two main purposes: to describe the worldwide supply and demand situation for seafarers in 2000, and to make predictions as to the likely situation in 5-10 years’ time, so that the industry can anticipate changes and, if appropriate, take necessary corrective action.
This 2000 Update has also attempted to take full account of the views of senior executives in the shipping industry, providing a synthesis of academic analysis with the practical experience of international employers. An updated estimate of the global supply of seafarers has been produced by amalgamating the most recent national statistics provided by authorities in almost all of the principal labour supply countries. As a result of this exercise, the worldwide supply of seafarers in 2000 is estimated to be 404,000 officers and 823,000 ratings.
The world fleet continues to rely upon large numbers of officers from Europe, North America, Japan and other OECD countries. However, over 40 per cent of these officers are over 50 years old, and 18 per cent are aged over 55. Most of these officers are in senior positions as Masters or Chief Engineers. The impact on the industry of their retirement, without adequate numbers of well-trained and experienced replacements, could be severe. While senior shipping executives questioned in this survey forecast that within the next 5-10 years most senior officers will be from Asian or East European supply countries, other data in this Update suggests that the situation may prove more complicated.