Vietnam Logistics Business Association



Shipping companies are “thirsty” for high-quality human resources

Shipping companies are “thirsty” for high-quality human resources

Freight prices decreased, many foreign shipping lines cut trips, and the market returned to a state of surplus crew members. However, high-quality personnel are still very scarce.

Recruitment is more rigorous


The current seafarer market is abundant in sailors, but still lacks high-quality human resources.

About half a year ago, finding crew members has no longer been a struggle for Mr. Nguyen Dai Hai, Deputy Director of Tan Cang Shipping Joint Stock Company and his colleagues.

During the Covid-19 epidemic, every time it was time to change crew members, it made him and the board of directors worried. Lacking human resources, businesses have to swap people with other companies or accept low-quality crew members to have enough staff to operate the ship. But now, companies are selected more carefully to recruit the desired human resources.

“Now selection can be based on background, with priority given to hard-working, healthy people, or based on seniority, experience working on ships, and good qualifications,” Mr. Hai shared.

According to experts, during the Covid-19 epidemic, many countries with strong seafarer forces such as Myanmar, Philippines, China… tightened regulations on epidemic prevention, so the market was scarce of seafarers. In that context, the Vietnamese seafarers market is “attention”.

Foreign ship owners have paid very high salaries to attract Vietnamese seafarers without requiring much in terms of quality and professional qualifications.

Currently, the situation has changed because seafarers from other countries have returned to the market. Excess human resources and ship owners’ stricter requirements for quality when recruiting make many low-quality Vietnamese seafarers easily lose their jobs.

Mr. Pham Tuan Dung, Deputy Director of SCC Seafarer Supply Company Limited (SCCM), said that in the past, Chinese ship owners did not require high foreign language skills. 

Now, these ship owners will personally interview to select people, so crew members must be able to hear and speak English. 

At the same time, ship owners also set criteria for experience working on large ships, while Vietnamese seafarers mainly travel on small ships. 

Japanese ship owners are even more demanding, requiring crew members to have a TOEIC foreign language proficiency of 300 points.

“The English proficiency of Vietnamese seafarers is lower than that of the crew from the Philippines, Myanmar, and India, so it is more difficult to be recruited,” Mr. Dung said.

Accept high salaries to keep good people

According to statistics from the Vietnam Maritime Administration, in the past year, the number of seafarers has increased from 53,000 to about 60,000 people. 

Currently, the human resource for seafaring is abundant, and there is a surplus in the positions of sailors and mechanics. 

However, there is still a lack of well-qualified and highly skilled seafarers, and a lack of resources for positions such as 2nd and 3rd deputy.

According to statistics from the Vietnam Maritime Administration, in 2015, the number of trained operational officers reached about 1,706 people, but by 2022, the number of trained officers will only reach about 1,035 people. 

During the 10-year period from 2011 to 2021, while the number of sailors and mechanics increased by nearly 23%, the number of operating officers only increased by about 2.4%.

In a short time, the training scale decreased more than 3 times and is expected to continue to decrease in the near future.

In addition, on average every year, there are about 400 – 500 crew members who have reached the end of their working age. Most of these crew members are experienced and hold high positions such as captain, chief engineer, chief officer, and second engineer.

Lack of high-quality human resources and lack of adequate resources for operational officers forces businesses to find ways to manage. 

Some businesses try to train seafarers with college or university degrees to advance to positions to qualify for officers on ships.

According to the leader of Tan Cang Shipping Joint Stock Company, his business must overcome the shortage of quality officers by pairing people with good professional qualifications with people with less qualifications to tutor. train each other.

At the same time, to retain good quality human resources, businesses also create many incentive mechanisms and policies in terms of salary, allowances or bonuses to help seafarers strive and increase their responsibility.

“Even though production and business activities are not as good as the previous period, revenue has decreased, but the salaries of seafarers are still kept at a high level,” Mr. Hai informed.

Mr. Phan Thuc Tran, Deputy Director of Viet Thuan Transport Company Limited, said that currently, sea freight rates have decreased, only 1/3 compared to the time of the Covid-19 epidemic. 

Many shipping businesses have no cargo to run and ships cannot operate, so crew salaries have also been cut to only 60-70%.

The number of seafarers is somewhat redundant, but the number of skilled human resources is still not much. Therefore, the company is forced to have a regime and maintain high salaries like during the epidemic to retain well-qualified human resources.

According to a survey by Traffic Newspaper reporter, the current average salary of sailors and mechanics fluctuates around 16 – 23 million VND/month, depending on the ship owner and each ship route.

According to experts, foreign ship owners tend to choose seafarers from Myanmar, India or the Philippines instead of Vietnam because the seafarers of these countries have very competitive salaries with Vietnamese seafarers.

A survey by the Vietnam Maritime Administration shows that, on bulk cargo ships, the salary of Vietnamese seafarers in the positions of watchman on watch (AB) and oiler (Oiler) is about 1,300-1,500 USD, the salary of deputy captains 3 about 2,000-2,500 USD/month.

However, the salary of Myanmar and Philippine seafarers (on the Southeast Asia route) is about 900-1,100 USD/month with the title of watchman and oiler. The position of 3rd mate for seafarers in these countries is about 1,500-1,800 USD/month.

Source: bao

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