Global connectivity has transformed the crewing marketplace over the past decade, enabling the best seafarers to find job opportunities at their fingertips and giving them more employment choices, says Danica Crewing Specialists as it celebrates 10 years in business.
Outlining the changes he has seen over the past 10 years, Danica CEO Henrik Jensen highlighted access to the internet as a significant development which has made the crewing world more transparent and enabled seafarers to consider a range of worldwide employment opportunities.
In addition, he reported that today’s qualified seafarers are vetting the shipping companies they work for, choosing on the basis of business ethics and environmental credentials in addition to employment conditions and work-life balance.
As Danica launched its birthday celebrations, Mr Jensen commented: “Society has moved on a lot over the past ten years and the competition for recruiting and retaining top talent has become even stronger. The best seafarers are in a position to choose which contracts they accept and have become much more selective in which companies they want to work for.”
He continued: “During the past 10 years the internet has had a huge impact on recruitment and retention. Today all manning agencies, crew managers and shipping companies advertise their vacancies online with joining dates, wages and benefits. This has made the employment market fully transparent.
“Previously a seafarer needed to attend several manning offices or make a lot of telephone calls to get a full understanding of what employment conditions they could get – now they can collect that intelligence in just a couple hours surfing on the internet. This makes the employment market much more competitive,” he explained.
Having the internet available to crew while at sea has transformed the lives of seafarers, advised Mr Jensen, himself a former ships’ Captain: “Finally, we have the internet readily available onboard most ships. I think that is very important, not only for the well-being and convenience of the seafarers who can now stay in contact with their families, but also it takes away a lot of the isolation while away at sea.
“Seafarers can now follow all news and events the same as the rest of us, and I think this really adds value to their awareness and personal situation. In the past seafarers were at risk of developing a sense of rootlessness. They were onboard a vessel for a period, then shifted to shore for a limited time, then on to a new ship, and the patten continued. For some this created a feeling of not belonging anywhere. Internet connectivity at sea enables them to feel part of wider society and to stay in touch with their family and friends on a real-time basis, which is hugely beneficial to their mental health.”
In addition, he observed: “Online connectivity is a useful tool to reach out to crew. Danica has been using social media for recruitment for more than five years now and we find it is a successful tool for reaching seafarers at sea and on shore, of all ranks and ages but particularly young aspiring ones.”
He also stressed the importance of timely contract renewal and speedy decision-making when recruiting and retaining talent. “With a world of vacancies accessible on their screens, seafarers can ensure they secure good quality work when they need it so if you want to retain competent crew then sign them up for their next posting before their current one ends, as uncertainty can lead to them being snapped up by someone else,” he advised.
The global nature of shipping, combined with the necessity to adapt crewing strategies during the Covid-19 pandemic, has changed the way ship owners approach their crewing needs today. Mr Jensen predicts a move to a much more diversified crew sourcing strategy to reduce risk and ensure a strong talent pool.
“Many owners have been sticking to two to three crew nationalities but that will change in the wake of the problems presented by the Covid lockdowns, particularly in the Philippines, and the turbulence caused by the war in Europe. Over the coming years owners will be looking to add more nationalities to their crew pools to mitigate such risks and also to ensure sufficient quality talent,” he predicted.
In response to the evolving crewing marketplace, Danica Crewing Specialists has grown significantly from its origins in Odesa, Ukraine. The Hamburg-headquartered company now spans eastern Europe, India and the Far East, giving it access to a crew pool of more than 70,000 seafarers. It has also opened a new operational centre in Cyprus and has further expansion plans in the pipeline.
“These past ten years have been fast-moving and the next decade looks set to flash by even quicker. At Danica we plan to keep adapting and evolving – using all the latest tools available to stay in touch with our shipowners and our growing pool of talented crew.”