Marine labor is a difficult and demanding profession requiring a diverse skillset and deep knowledge. The very best shipyard workers possess a deep love of honest craftsmanship and a maritime heritage from which they pride themselves. Reliability is key and experience are key, as well. So how do you find these perfect craftsmen, especially with the traditionally cyclical nature of the industry to deal with?

In a round table discussion on this very subject, human resources personnel and educators from Shipyards, Training Providers and Industry Consortiums shared their most common challenges. Here are some of the highlights.

In regard to the major issues for those hiring in the industry:

“The biggest issue today is the critical lack of skilled metal craft workers. This is being driven by many factors including an aging workforce, workers leaving the industry for new occupations and an ever dwindling pool of new workers. Young men and women are not entering the skilled crafts at the same rates as they have in past decades. This skilled craft gap affects all areas.” – Roy Barker, Bollinger Shipyards

In regard to what prospects are looking for:

“They want to feel like they are part of a great team, they want to feel like their work matters, that they are part of an organization that values them and that the end product they weld makes a difference in our country’s infrastructure, economy and national security.  One of the mistakes too many employers make is using the “candy” alone to attract top talent. Instead of focusing so much energy into traditional employer benefits, management needs to build a culture that is so powerful their employees will not leave for another yard that offers slightly higher pay.” – Ryan Blythe, Georgia Trade School

In regard to the age, maturity and longevity of the shipyard workforce:

“I would characterize our workforce as mature and feel that there will be a very large “crunch” for craft workers within the next five to ten years. This is largely due to the “push” for our young adults to obtain college degrees along with the lack of momentum toward or lack of the knowledge of the existence of skilled labor careers.” – Susan Inagaki, Gulf Copper & Manufacturing Corp.

With a Lack of Skilled Workers and Aging Workforce, How Do Shipyards Respond?

Contingent staffing is an emerging trend in marine labor. From shipbuilding, repair, retrofit and decommissioning to yacht building, repair or refitting, these partners provide the marine labor staffing solutions the industry needs. One such example is Tradesmen International. Tradesmen helps you find marine trade craftsmen who are experienced and proven shipyard-worthy: guaranteed qualified and accurately placed, thorough employment references and careful, professional skill assessments.

Learn more about Tradesmen’s solutions for marine labor staffing here. We also encourage you to read the complete round table discussion, available here.