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Shipping's struggle to attract digital talent

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The maritime industry is struggling to compete with other sectors vying to recruit and retain the digital talent, according to data compiled by the online networking platform LinkedIn.

Tech roles, and software engineers in particular, are among the top emerging roles in most regions and industries across LinkedIn's 610m users globally.

That trends applies for most key maritime sectors, where 24% of hires tracked by LinkedIn over the past 12 months were categorised by the platform as 'tech hires'.

However, drilling into the data further reveals that the maritime industry is pulling in a fraction of the global talent headed to other sectors.

Drilling down into the data to identify the potential available 'talent' in these roles specifically working in maritime significantly reduces the available pool that companies could potentially look to hire.

Speaking at the Sea Asia conference held as part Singapore Maritime Week, Elsie Ng, regional head of talent solutions at LinkedIn showed that while the platform held 2.5m software engineers in its database, just 600 reveal maritime experience in Asia. Anyone hoping to hire a data scientist would be fishing in a pool of just 150 'talents' as the LinkedIn jargon describes them.

"It's clear from the data that maritime companies are hiring tech talent, but so is everyone else... it's getting tougher to hire. You need to re-think how you are hiring and retaining."

Retention rates are equally disconcerting. Just over 18% of the software engineers working in maritime moved jobs in the past 12 months and the average tenure of a data scientist in maritime is just six months in a single role.

"It's clear from the data that maritime companies are hiring tech talent, but so is everyone else... it's getting tougher to hire. You need to re-think how you are hiring and retaining," Ms Ng told the conference.


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According to research conducted last year by LinkedIn, in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, most companies intend to limit their skills training provision over the 2018–2022 period to employees performing today's in-demand job roles, rather than thinking more long-term and creatively.

One of the key recommendations from that report encouraged sectors struggling to attract scarce skilled talent to consider 'up-skilling' the existing workforce - a measure which has the welcome side-effect of improving retention rates.

Responding to the data conclusions, International Chamber of Shipping secretary general Guy Platten said it was crucial for the maritime sector to improve its image among the wider workforce to secure a higher percentage of digital talent.

"We have to get our message about the industry being a high-tech industry out to the general public," he said, speaking to Lloyd's List.

You can listen to the whole conversation with Mr Platten here:

This article originally appeared on Lloyd's List and is reproduced with permission.

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