What future for Burmese seafarers?

Singapore: As Myanmar increasingly opens up to the outside world an inevitable increase in living standards and by extension wages has some shipmanagers on edge. Burmese seafarers make up just a minute fraction of the world’s oceangoing crew at present. However, they are deemed high quality.
Vijay Rangroo, boss of Singapore-headquartered MTM Ship Management, which currently looks after 45 vessels, sources around 60% of his crew from Myanmar, totaling some 540 people.
“Myanmar crewing will be harder in the future,” he told SeaShip News. “Crew wages were much higher than onshore, but as onshore wages rise the attractiveness of life at sea will decrease.”
The first “casualty”, according to Rangroo, will be engineers as they have more flexibility for employment ashore.
Another shipmanager with experience of working with Burmese seafarers is Bjorn Hojgaard, ceo of Hong Kong’s Univan Shipmanagement. Univan employs a few Burmese and Hojgaard has worked with Burmese for the past 12 years. He cited their strong points as high technical skills, especially on electrical and mechanical engineering.
“Crew costs out of Myanmar are already today quite high, however, so I don't see Burmese crew as a new high-quality, low-cost supply,” he noted. “They are just below the cost levels of Indians, and the pool should rather be seen as one where special competencies can be picked up, rather than a mad dash for cost saving.”  [26/09/12]

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