Greater ChinaOperations

Taiwan fights to avoid looming crewing shortage

Facing a looming crew shortage, Taiwan’s shipping companies have joined forces with government to kickstart a renewed local recruitment and cadet drive.

Seven Taiwanese shipping companies, including Evergreen, Yang Ming, and Wan Hai Lines, have vowed to work with the Maritime Port Bureau (MPB), maritime schools, and government agencies to foster a local workforce, something made all the more urgent after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has knocked out a sizeable portion of the global seafarer workforce.

Yang Ming chairman Cheng Chen-mount said in a speech at the signing of the crewing initiative memorandum of understanding yesterday that all shipping companies in the country are fighting to recruit seagoing staff.

Crew shortages are driving up seafarer wages, according to Danica Crewing Specialist’s CEO Henrik Jensen who has urged ship operators to be quick to offer jobs to seafarers who apply with them or risk losing out to a higher bidder.

The Ukrainian conflict, sanctions against Russia, and new covid outbreaks in China are all impacting global crewing levels.

In a release, Jensen warned: “On top of the fall-out from the Ukrainian situation, we have Russian seafarers subject to visa restrictions and travel limitations, and new coronavirus outbreaks in China which have halted many Chinese crews from joining ships.”

These shortages are pushing up prices which for some ranks Jensen described as “very steep”.

A major new report published last month entitled The Perfect Storm penned by the Hamburg School of Business Administration for the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) looked at the crew shortfalls.

“Over the last two decades, the seafarer labour market has gradually turned from supply-driven to demand-driven. While a longstanding shortage of officers is increasing, oversupply of ratings is also decreasing,” the study warned.

The issue of available staff at sea was front and centre at the latest meeting last month of the seafarers committee at the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA).

“In some Asian countries and regions, there are fewer and fewer young people willing to work as seafarers. As a result, the number of third mates and fourth engineer officers is decreasing significantly, and the subsequent supply of seafarers is insufficient. Undoubtedly, the epidemic will be accelerating the loss of seafarers, especially young seafarers,” the official ASA communiqué from the meeting stated.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
Back to top button