After many months of coronavirus-inspired recruitment pause shipping is gearing up for a belated round of human resources changes.
Hiring freezes have been dramatic in maritime this year, but there are signs that the industry is now ready to take on new staff with shipping being one of very few industries on track to report better results year-on-year in 2020.
The average of the ClarkSea Index – Clarkson’s shipping barometer for all segments – in 2020 so far is up 25% year-on-year.
The number of job vacancies is still dramatically down for maritime across the world. In Singapore, for instance, the figure is down approximately 80% year-on-year, according to data from HR firm Ignition Global. Actual job moves in the Lion Republic are down roughly 50% year-on-year, although this month there appears to be a change in strategy.
There is downsizing of office space and more jobs are being moved from high cost to lower cost locations
“We are also slowly seeing an increase in the number of roles and vacancies within the maritime sector,” said Ryan Kumar, managing director of recruitment firm, Direct Search.
Heidi Heseltine, CEO of UK-headquartered Halcyon Recruitment, told Splash Extra that there are still hiring freezes in place, but organisations in good financial positions are starting to reconsider their position.
“The thought process being that now is actually a prime opportunity to attract strong talent where there is so much uncertainty due to both market conditions and Covid-related matters,” Heseltine said.
It also ties in with organisations seeking to capitalise on potential M&A activity and invest in new projects.
A recent post on the HR firm Spinnaker’s website suggested the recruitment impasse is coming to an end, albeit finding the right hires will be more tricky than before.
“Hiring talent will become more subjective than objective. Recruitment will become harder,” the Spinnaker article predicted.
On the employee side, jobseekers are also taking stock of what they want.
“Stability is essential but we are now seeing candidates making decisions to change jobs based on how inclusive and employee-focused an organisation is,” Heseltine said.
Hiring is predominantly happening nationally. Overseas hires are still very thin on the ground, especially in Southeast Asia.
“With borders closed it is virtually impossible to get new work permits or employment passes for people overseas. So for now all hiring is locally based, certainly in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia,” said Paul Ratcliffe, a director at Ignition Global.
HR specialists concur that this year’s working from home experiment has gone well and will continue post-Covid-19.
“This will mean more flexibility for many employees. Management styles and skills are evolving to suit the remote work environment. There is downsizing of office space and more jobs are being moved from high cost to lower cost locations,” Ratcliffe said.
Data from Direct Search shows 95% of job interviews have been conducted via video conference in recent months.
“Companies and individuals will have to adopt and adapt to advance,” said Direct Search’s Kumar.