Help Wanted: U.S. Maritime Industry

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There are plenty of job openings in the American maritime industry for qualified people, according to a survey issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.  Almost two-thirds of the operators of U.S.-registered vessels who responded said they had trouble in the past year finding enough qualified people to fill all their jobs.

“The maritime industry is a great place to look for long-term employment now,” noted Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton.  “It used to be that there were too few jobs and too many people looking.  This study shows that the tide has turned, and that situation is reversed.”

The survey results were drawn from self-administered questionnaires returned to the Maritime Administration from U.S.-flag vessel operators.  Key highlights of the survey include:


  • Eighty-nine percent of the respondents tried to hire mariners in the past year, but 71 percent of them encountered problems in recruitment.  The largest area of concern is in the hiring of licensed deck mariners.
  • Over half of the respondents indicated a degree of difficulty in retaining qualified mariners, with 88 percent of those respondents indicating that retention issues have impacted business operations.
  • Seventy-one percent of respondents facing retention issues believe the problems will persist for at least five years.


In order to further understand the workforce issues impacting the U.S. maritime industry, the Maritime Administration will conduct a more in-depth analysis of the current state of the mariner workforce.  Additionally, the Maritime Administration will continue its efforts to raise awareness of the workforce shortage and develop more training opportunities for U.S. citizens to become qualified mariners.

“With applications to attend the United States Merchant Marine Academy as well as the six State Maritime Academies around the country at an all-time high, the Maritime Administration will continue to find new and innovative ways to recruit, train and retain qualified U.S. mariners,” stated Connaughton.  “In order for our Nation to continue its economic prosperity we must ensure the next generation of mariners is prepared to lead the U.S. maritime industry.”

The Maritime Administration is the agency in the Department of Transportation dealing with waterborne transportation.  Its mission is to improve and strengthen the U.S. marine transportation system, including infrastructure, industry and labor, to meet the economic and security needs of the United States.  Additionally, the Maritime Administration operates the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York, and supports the six state maritime academies.


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