Seafarers’ Future on Focus at the Seafarer 2050 Summit in Manila

  • Post published:6 September 2023

Following a weekend of the highly successful ITF Seafarers’ Expo in Manila, and also the commemoration of the Day of the Seafarer on 25 June, seafarers were put on centre stage at the Shaping the Future of Shipping – Seafarer 2050 Summit.

During the seafarers’ summit, delegates examined the opportunities and challenges facing the world’s nearly two million seafarers over the coming decades. This included increasing automation and digitisation, and the production and transportation of future fuels. The agenda prioritised education, capacity-building and resilience, recruitment and retention to strengthen the industry’s future amidst evolving challenges. Recruitment and retention of the next generation of seafarers was identified as critical. It has been projected that by 2026 the shipping industry will need an additional 90,000 seafarers to keep trade moving.

Philippines President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr gave the assurance that his government will continue strengthening maritime related policies and protecting Filipino seafarers and their loved ones.

The President directed the country’s maritime and education authorities to work closely with the shipping industry to ensure Filipino seafarers have the skills needed for future fuels. “I enjoin national government agencies, multi-layer organisers, and private stakeholders to work together in identifying strategies to ensure the availability of skilled workers to fulfil the requirements of the shipping industry. This is expected to significantly increase by the year 2050.”

In one of the panel discussions at the summit, the shortage of seafarers in a growing maritime industry was highlighted. Mr Svein Steimler, special advisor of NYK Group Europe, UK, said the continued growth in international shipping “will lead to a shortage of hundreds of thousands of seafarers, a number which is expected to grow by 2050.” A noteworthy highlight is that discussions have reached their limit, and the imperative now is to transition from words to tangible actions.

“Philippine seafarers hold a special place in SMOU’s priorities, given that a substantial number of seafarers fall under our CBA umbrella. Witnessing the commitment from both shipowners and the government towards enhancing training and preparing our seafarers for 2050 is truly heartening.” said Gwee Guo Duan, Assistant General Secretary of SMOU.

SMOU joined government ministers, regulators, shipowners, employers, seafarer unions, industry leaders and technology and infrastructure providers to address requirements for the transformation of seafarers’ roles to meet the needs of shipping in the future.

The summit was brought to the global maritime community by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council Ltd (IMEC) with the Filipino Shipowners Association (FSA).