At the beginning of each year I'm frequently asked about the trends I expect to see in the world of maritime recruitment, and the start of 2018 has been no different. Having thought long and hard about what happened in 2017 and how this will affect recruitment this year, I have made a list of the 10 essential maritime recruitment trends for this year.
1. Salaries and bonuses will mostly remain static.
With the exception of a few areas, 2018 will see little change in compensation and benefits in the wider sector. 2017 saw the full expat package become increasingly rare, with companies preferring to pay all-in-total-cash and a continued narrowing of the pay gap between the main shipping hubs. We expect this year to see only inflationary rises in base pay with moderate bonuses and in some of the more challenged areas of shipping possibly no change at all.
2. Dry sector hiring will pick-up but will be challenging.
We saw lots of hiring action within the dry sector during the last three months of 2017 and the projects we have on the books paints a positive picture for 2018. This increased hiring action has also seen a firming up of salaries in the sector, but this may not be enough to persuade many experienced people who left dry during the tough times to return. Employers will find a skills-shortage in particular for mid-career and experienced senior talent.
3. Competition for the best talent will be fierce.
There was a general resurgence in maritime hiring in the second half of 2017 and this trend looks set to continue for at least the first half of 2018. The best talent across the board in maritime are in jobs, being bear-hugged by their current employer and know they will have multiple options if they came onto the jobs market. Companies will need to be fiercely competitive to hire the best talent and will need to focus on their wider value proposition as an employer.
4. Sentiment in offshore will be up and down like fiddlers elbow!
Some months, it seems that hiring in the offshore sector is back and we are off down the long road to recovery and some months companies are laying off again and the light at the end of the tunnel was actually a train coming! Whilst there is some opportunistic hiring in the offshore sector and more talk about a recovery, there hasn’t been a great uptick in hiring and quite frankly, I don’t expect this to change drastically in 2018. I am giving up predicting this!
5. Hiring top four on-board gas tankers will be more difficult.
It was tough to recruit the top four on-board gas tankers in 2017 and this will become even more difficult in 2018. Why? The talent pool is just not big enough to fulfill demand. The solution? Employers must become more open to hiring from outside of gas and more willing to train and mentor.
6. Tech and big data will get bigger!
Big data and digital is the future of maritime and 2018 is likely to see a boom of hiring in these areas. Finding talent for this sector requires a change of tactics from traditional maritime recruitment and it will be a question of whether Mmaritime can do enough to tempt the best people away from the uber-cool and big paying tech companies.
7. Hiring for cruise sector is bonkers!
With more than 90 cruise ships being built, new types of vessels and new types of companies entering the market, hiring in cruise will continue to go crazy! However, it is not a case of 'if you build it they will come' for cruise, with demand already outstripping supply for Cruise newbuilding talent. When it comes to hiring on-board, companies are increasingly having to look outside of the sector, whether they are hiring a Captain or a Chef De Parties. A major threat to cruise would be the return of the offshore sector where officers may jump ship for the higher salaries and shorter rotations on offer.
8. Superyacht recruitment will be more sophisticated.
There are more than 100 BIG superyachts being built right now which means there's going to be a lot of crew to hire. With the yachts getting larger, technology becoming more complex and owners requirements getting extraordinary, the hiring process in superyachts is changing, for the better. Who would have believed a Chief Purser being credit checked for a job on-board or a Psychometric test for a Steward as part of their interview process? Well, it's happening and this will be the new reality for superyacht recruitment in 2018 and beyond.
9. All change at the top! Senior executive recruitment.
The second half of 2017 saw a huge up-tick in senior executive searches and there is no sign of this slowing down in 2018. In fact, we predict that this year will see even more senior executive recruitment, as companies re-shape their senior leadership teams to meet or capitalize on market opportunities. I am pleased to report that much of our current search work is as a result of companies growing or entering new markets.
10. Faststream moves to offense.
In 2017, we successfully met our objective to replace all the fee income we lost in the oil and gas downturn with maritime business and 2018 will see us move back to going on offense. This year we plan to expand our geography, increase our maritime sector offering in some key markets and grow our consultant numbers. All in all, we are working hard to grow our position as global market leader.
Mark Charman is Chief Executive Office, Faststream Recruitment Group