Shipmanagement sector could grow during COVID-19 crisis says recruitment specialist

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Shipmanagement is one of the maritime sectors that is relatively unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and might even grow during the crisis, according to a maritime recruitment specialist.

In a webinar today (Thursday) giving an update on the maritime employment market during these unprecedented times, Mark Charman, Founder and CEO of the UK-based Faststream Recruitment Group told participants how one shipmanagement company had told him they had never seen so many enquiries from potential new clients.

“It is a sector of maritime that might well prosper during these difficult times,” said Mr Charman.

However, many sectors, he said, were struggling, particularly the cruise industry which had seen many redundancies – just this week Carnival UK has announced over 450 job losses – and an element of container shipping has also been very hard hit.

“It’s definitely not business as usual,” he said, citing the challenge of mobility restrictons, temporary pay cuts for some employees, high-profile lay-offs and the need for social distancing until a vaccine is found.

“This pandemic has side swiped us all. We are all operating in a sea of grey.”

He said the pandemic has led the global workforce to work in different ways, particularly with many people now working from home, which had generally been better managed by older, more senior employees than the younger generation who might struggle with space for a home workplace and be missing the social aspect of being with colleagues.

Mr Charman said it was hard for anyone to predict how long the crisis would last but companies were dealing with it in different ways in terms of human resources. Some were, he said, treading water with no hiring or firing, while some were pressing on with recruitment and had a positive outlook.

Indeed, talking to many senior executives in the industry, he said that after a couple of very difficult months, there was an increasing sense of normalisation and leaders are talking about the people needed for the ‘bounce back’

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in demand from companies wanting to hire people with core skills such as crisis management and restructuring to come in on an interim or contract basis. “They want to buy in this expertise,” he said.

Mr Charman said many companies had adapted to a new way of working and vacancy numbers were increasing again.

Home working has, he said, become the hot topic and while he acknowledges it does not suit everyone, he believes it will provide opportunities for employers to hire talent, they previously could not access, remotely.

“The world of work will change because of this crisis,” he said. “Working from home will become normal, and I do think we will see companies seeing this is an opportunity.”

Twitter, for example, this week announced its employees could work from home forever, and Mr Charman said some maritime companies were exploring this idea.

Mr Charman said interviewing for jobs was also now being carried out remotely and he foresees this as another area which could continue when the crisis is finally over.

“Remote interviewing and onboarding will become increasingly common and, for some companies, the norm,” he said.