Where are the Shipping Jobs?

If like me you are looking for a full-time position in commercial shipping and wondering where the jobs are; I have some good news and some bad news. There are jobs out there, but not many, and if you are based in Europe you may have to move.

There are currently 102 shipbroking-related jobs advertised on the websites of the three main shipping recruiters, Spinnaker, Faststream and Halcyon. In fact, the number is probably 10-20% less than that as there will be some overlap between the three agencies, but on the other hand I have taken a tight interpretation of commercial shipping. I searched the websites for commercial shipping jobs that involved chartering, broking (including bunkers), post-fixture and vessel operations.

The chart below shows that most of the advertised vacancies are in Singapore (44%). I asked Heidi Heseltine of Halcyon Recruitment, which has an office in Singapore, why Singapore ranked higher than a “traditional” shipping centre like London. Ms Heseltine pointed out that the list is inherently skewed because competitive shipbrokers feel their networks are sufficiently strong to recruit among themselves. There are probably vacancies to be filled in London and Europe, but they are not advertised as competitive brokers rarely approach specialist recruiters.

Job Locations

This would explain the lack of London-based commercial shipping jobs (only 16% of the vacancies), but why is Singapore so dominant? “Singapore is dominant because it is still in expansion mode. Asia Pacific trades are playing an important role in shipping life and Singapore itself offers some good incentives to companies to base themselves there. As a location at the moment it is often seen to be more attractive due to its low taxation and stable economy, European locations are struggling to entice newcomers in many locations.” explained Ms Heseltine.

This isn’t great news for those of us looking for work in commercial shipping in Europe. There is still a great depth of shipping companies and shipbrokers in Europe but some are moving their chartering and broking operations eastward. Job availability also depends on the fortunes of the shipping sector. Over half (53%) of the jobs related to the dry bulk sector, followed by bunkers (11%) and tankers (6%). So does this mean UK jobseekers in commercial shipping with dry bulk experience can find work in Singapore? Not necessarily. “Some roles in Singapore will take people from the UK but only if they are not available locally. The Singapore government is putting increased pressure on employers to recruit from the local market and of course this also keeps costs down for employers. The employment of individuals from outside of Singapore continues of course but the focus is very much on finding people locally if possible so ‘external’ recruitment will only take place for roles requiring specialist experience that is not readily found in Singapore itself. For recent graduates or those with 2-3 years experience, it is increasingly difficult to be recruited from the UK or Europe for a role in Singapore for the reasons already stated.” said Ms Heseltine of Halcyon Recruitment.

As well as the three above agencies I use LinkedIn a lot for job searching, but how useful is it for finding a job? I would like to hear from anyone who has found a commercial shipping or ship finance job directly through LinkedIn or via an agent who saw your LinkedIn page.


About Craig Jallal
A shipping analyst whose feels the need to comment on the industry.

3 Responses to Where are the Shipping Jobs?

  1. I’m sure Singapore will grow more on this industry for the next couple of years because a lot of expansions are happening nowadays,

  2. Pingback: How many Shipping Conferences are there in 2013? | Shipping Research and Finance

  3. Bailrigg Capital says:

    Speaking from a financing background, the trend seems to be increasingly moving away from London. The general health of European banks does not help, but the fiscal incentives given by Singapore (say) are another factor. I still think London probably has the best concentration of a wide span of shipping disciplines in one place (i.e. banks, investors, lawyers, accountants, trade bodies, technical managers etc.).

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