Maritime CEO Forum tackles shipping’s HR crunch

The last 20 years have seen an unprecedented increase of ships and whilst it takes nine months to build a ship, it takes 10 years to build a captain. Therefore the natural transfer of knowledge – and competence – has suffered.” That’s the view of Lars Modin, marine operations director at shipmanager giant V.Ships and one of the panelists at next Monday’s HR and crewing session during the Maritime CEO Forum.

The forum, returning to Singapore for the second year, takes place at the start of Singapore Maritime Week at the republic’s iconic Fullerton Hotel. It is split into four sessions with dry bulk, tankers and the future of shipping alongside the HR one.

Alongside Modin on stage for the HR session are Michael Elwert, CEO of Elektrans Group, Mike Kennedy, managing director of Hellespont and Marlon Roño, executive chairman of Magsaysay Maritime Corporation with Arthur Bowring from the Hong Kong Shipowners Association serving as moderator.

For Modin, the attraction of a seagoing career has changed. “Young people can earn good money in other local industries and travel more for leisure than they used to,” he told Splash in the run up to next week’s high level gathering. In addition the lack of onboard social life and the need for constant online access are issues. Then there are the negative perceptions such as oil spills, criminalization and pirates.

“Officer retention is critical in order to manage risk and also meet the experience matrix requirements. In general an officer who is an ex-company cadet, will perform to a higher level to an officer who jumps from fleet to fleet,” Modin asserted.

Elektrans’s Elwert argued that a high retention rate onboard in itself is only successful if the right people are retained. Like Modin, Elwert felt shipping has failed to get the right message across when it comes to attracting the right people.

“Do we as an industry have a reputation and misperception challenge affecting our ability to attract and retain the best talent?” Elwert mused, adding: “We can offer a world of careers but do we tell the story? How can we better reach out and showcase what we have to offer in terms of fantastic career paths?”

For more information on next week’s Maritime CEO Forum, click here.

Maritime CEO Forum is sponsored by Cobham, Dualog, DVB Bank, Gray Page, Q88, ShipServ, Transas, Veritas Petroleum Services, V.Group and Wartsila.


  1. I will be interested to see how this debate goes. As a second generation Seafarer with 33 years at sea, My Father had 50 years and my son is a second year deck cadet. How many of these speakers really understand the meaning of ” A LIFE at Sea” and all that goes with this job. They need to engage with seafarers of all ranks to understand how at the beginning of every trip we pack our bags and leave our families. And how for many of us it is not just a job it is a way of life and all we know. We spend over half our lives on the sea in many cases with restricted communications home limited internet yet we still do it. It is a family job so much as those at home have to manage in the abscence of there Fathers, Mothers, Partners, Sons and Daughters.

  2. Michael Elwert’s quote, “We can offer a world of careers, but do we tell tell the story?”, summarises the key problem of today’s recruitment, training and retention issue. No one really goes to sea for the adventure anymore. Why bother? Budget airlines will get you to foreign ports and countries and you will actually get to see what’s there instead of a possible quick glance during an 8 hr container cargo operation. Young people today are seeking well charted career paths, not just jobs. Shipping can offer this with a solid start at sea as a mariner along with a planned transition into shore based employment up the high level of Group CEO of Elektrans position that former mariner Michael Elwert now commands and even beyond. So what is stopping the shipping industry and organisations like Singapore’s MPA from understanding and leveraging this critical motivation and job satisfaction feature? Hopefully, the HR session at the Maritime CEO Forum will identify and action.

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