IMCA Tackles Skills Shortage
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IMCA Tackles Skills Shortage


The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) have been widely publicising the skills shortages in the industry, and have also proposed methods for dealing with this potentially damaging situation for the industry. At the start of the year IMCA publicised members’ practical estimates of growth to quantify the additional future demand for personnel in key positions that the industry will need to recruit.

The figures quoted at the start of the year are related to orders for new build construction vessels, drilling rigs, saturation diving spreads and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). From these estimates, it might be possible to extrapolate some of the marine contracting industry’s recruitment needs over the next 2-3 years:

  • The industry will commission at least 50 new offshore construction vessels in the next 2-3 years covering IMCA members’ activities including lifting, pipelay, diving, survey and ROV operations. About 10 of these will be dive support vessels (DSVs)
  • The drilling industry will commission about 40 more floating drilling rigs (semi-submersible of ship shape) in the next three years
  • Around a hundred new ROVs will be built, most of them Work Class
  • About 10 new portable or modular saturation diving systems will come onto the market
  • The new vessels and drill rigs will require some 2000 additional watch-keepers across the bridge, deck and engine room
  • The increases in saturation diving will require some 800 additional personnel in saturation diving and related positions
  • They will require around 1000 additional survey and inspection discipline personnel
  • The ROV spreads will require some 1200 additional personnel to operate them

These numbers do not include the large numbers of additional air diving personnel and the many other deck, catering and ancillary crew, or onshore and engineering support personnel required to operate the vessels. Nor do they include the crewing and support of the 600 or so supply vessels that are now on the drawing board or under construction.

In parallel with publicising this need, the international association, with 365 member companies in 45 countries, has been taking steps to address the supply of new personnel, by updating its careers material and promoting it strongly at a school, college and university level. The association is also developing a new set of case studies combining personal descriptions of what each job entails with details on the individuals’ own careers, the work opportunities they are presented with, the range of projects they’ve worked on and other highlights such as travel and global experience.


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