A serious skills shortage is hitting the offshore market. 

“The industry is extremely busy and expected to remain so for a number of years,” said Hugh Williams, Chief Executive of the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA).

“Many companies are experiencing significant challenges in recruiting sufficient trained and skilled personnel for their projects all over the world.  This is placing significant pressure on their desired growth and ability to deliver services.”

IMCA, as the international trade association representing over 350 offshore, marine and underwater engineering companies, in well over 40 countries, is eager to help its members address this skills shortage. 

“One route is to draw wider attention to the projected numbers of trained personnel required by the expanding marine contracting industry over the next 2-3 years,” said Hugh Williams.

“IMCA members have provided some practical estimates of the possible growth of their businesses.  For example,

  • The industry will commission at least 50 new offshore construction vessels in the next 2-3 years covering IMCA members’ activities including lifting, pipelay, diving, survey and ROV operations.  About 10 of these will be dive support vessels (DSVs)
  • The drilling industry will commission about 40 more floating drilling rigs (semi-submersible of ship shape) in the next three years
  • Around a hundred new ROVs will be built, most of them Work Class
  • About 10 new portable or modular saturation diving systems will come onto the market
  • The new vessels and drill rigs will require some 2000 additional watch-keepers across the bridge, deck and engine room
  • The increases in saturation diving will require some 800 additional personnel in saturation diving and related positions
  • They will require around 1000 additional survey and inspection discipline personnel
  • The ROV spreads will require some 1200 additional personnel to operate them

These numbers do not include the large numbers of additional air diving personnel and the many other deck, catering and ancillary crew, or onshore and engineering support personnel required to operate the vessels.

“For example the worldwide diving schools can perhaps train about 100 new saturation divers a year.  That there is a ‘skills shortage’ is widely acknowledged.

IMCA encourages raising the profile of the offshore industry in the employment market, including a focus on cross-training personnel from other industries who may already have many of the skills necessary for offshore work.