A big challenge for our industry is getting people to consider a maritime-related career. It is no surprise that even in these tough economic times it is still extremely difficult to make significant headway in recruitment and retention.
The marine industry must work together to attract new workers to all workboat sectors. The industry is diverse with many different options for future mariners, but we don’t do a very good job of speaking with one voice. The industry must somehow come together in a concerted effort to promote marine-related jobs and attract those who might otherwise have no awareness or interest in the maritime world. There are some great jobs in our industry, and there may never be a better time than now, with unemployment high, to reach out. Clearly, with such fields as marine architecture and design, marine engineering, boatbuilding and vessel operations, there are some great opportunities.
The job potential within the workboat industry is endless. Here are a few:
Merchant Mariners. Many people who would love to become mariners are discouraged by the licensing and security requirements. These need to be looked at carefully. Also, young high school or college graduates should be able to enter the industry as quickly as they can in other industries.
Maritime Professionals. Architects and engineers should be recruited early while in school so they know what is out there and available.
Hospitality or Customer Service Personnel. These jobs compete with similar land-based ones in hotels and restaurants.
Office, Support and Sales/Marketing Personnel. Many of these people could easily be recruited and would make great employees.
We must somehow attract our fair share of the employees that could or would be an ideal fit for our industry. I believe that there are many potential employees out there who would choose this industry as a career if they only knew about it. Could maritime associations and maritime schools and academies come together to tackle this challenge? After all, there is strength in numbers.
Let’s give it a try.
Editor’s note: This column first appeared in the April 2010 issue of WorkBoat.