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Offshore Execs Consider Shift Back to Maritime as Uncertainty Looms

Rob Almeida
Comments Off on Offshore Execs Consider Shift Back to Maritime as Uncertainty Looms

rob almeida flagship managementIt’s been a month or so since jumping back into the recruitment sector for the maritime and offshore industry – the business area where I initially entered this industry back in 2006.

From 2006 through 2008, the market was peaking within the maritime sector and social media was starting to really gain traction as an effective tool for business.

Finding naval architects or other high quality candidates that had experience and were looking for a new opportunity resulted in almost a guaranteed placement due to the high activity levels of hiring managers and close coordination we had with them.

As a media professional for most of the past 5 years, I’ve reported on many of the changes and evolutions within our industry, however what has struck me the most in the past month is how deeply the current downturn has hit the offshore sector.

Over the past month I have spoken to a number of super-experienced naval architects who are wondering if they will even have a job in the next 6 months and others who have been laid off as deepwater projects are put on hold or canceled altogether.

A few years ago, I could have found a dozen companies would have hired them on the spot.

The subsea industry has been hit extremely hard as literally thousands of people are being laid off from major employers such as Subsea 7 and high value assets are sold.

A career shift from “offshore” to “maritime” is one option being considered by some.  “It may be time to get back to my shipping roots,” said one oil and gas executive in a recent email. OIMs aboard high spec drilling rigs are doing the same. “Let me know if you have any rig-move opportunities or anything else that might fit my background,” an OIM/Master Mariner asked me yesterday.

In contrast, the oil tanker sector – which oddly enough was getting crushed about two years ago – is now in full swing and is a shining beacon of hope for some. The spillover of prosperity from this sector into the support areas is not enough however, to buoy the shipbuilding or OEM sectors.

Today, Finnish engine manufacturer Wärtsilä reports that during the first half of 2015, 458 contracts for new vessels were registered, representing a decline of approximately 53% compared to the 973 contracts reported in the corresponding period for 2014. As a result of this “sluggish” market, the company says they will reduce headcount by 600 within their marine business, 160 of which from their offices in Finland alone.

For those of you who come from the offshore sector and are no longer working at the moment, there is opportunity out there, and by now I’m sure you realize that it may not be at the same salary rate you saw in 2014, or even in the same industry. Working for a drilling contractor or EPC company may have provided a very lucrative salary, yet in return entailed a bit of risk as contracts end and the next contract beyond it is never a sure thing.

Nobody ever wants to take a pay cut when they switch jobs, but lower salaries are a function of a different business plan and market, not of your value to a prospective employer.

As the geopolitical and supply/demand landscape evolves, many of the typical maritime employers, such as the classification societies for example, are doing exactly what the oil majors are doing in many respects – they are waiting to see how things shake out for the world’s energy markets and global GDP.  Until some sort of stability is reached or consensus on what the market is going to do is attained, I think it is unlikely head count at major maritime industry employers will change significantly.

For those of you who are currently in an uncertain career situation, my advice is to take a pro-active approach to your career rather than let the market dictate your future – which could easily put you in a position where you have no job.

This doesn’t mean that you should send out your resume to everyone you know, but rather to keep your options open, have honest conversations with your supervisor and ensure you are on a path that will keep you gainfully employed for the years to come.

If you’d like to have a chat to discuss your current situation, feel free to email me at rob@flagshipmgt.com

Here are a few jobs I am currently seeking candidates for:

Click HERE for the full list of jobs

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