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Is it really as bad as people make it out to be?

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  • Is it really as bad as people make it out to be?

    I've seen a lot of people being negative about the British Shipping Industry, saying it's the "death of British seafarers". My question is: is it really that bad, once qualified will I struggle to find a job? And I've been offered two places for September: one with a company I like but they never hire cadets after their Cadetship, and another who I like a bit less but will likely hire me based on performance. Would it be worth going for the one with the job at the end? Thanks in advance

  • #2
    I have just finished up and qualified, I would definitely take the one who will hire you, I am currently looking for my first OOW job and there are some about but they are few are far between on traditional ships. More work is available in the yachting sector but that seems to be getting more competitive.
    The company may seem less attractive from before beginning the cadetship, but from what I saw the companies people looked down at, at the start often ended up being better in the long run. For example many of my class wanted to be with Wilhelmsen as they seemed really good (nice ships & worldwide itinerary), only for them to drop all there cadets mid-way through as part of cost-cutting.(fortunately the training organisation moved the cadets to other sponsors afterwards).


    • #3
      It's easier to move around once you've got a little experiance behind you, so even if you're not mad on the more reliable company I'd take them and stick it out for a year or two after qualifying.
      27//Officer Cadet//Phase Three//Warsash

      My officer cadet blog -


      • #4
        Depends what discipline you are going for. ETO and Engine seem to be slightly more in demand and have skills which are more easily transferable if you want to go shore side in future (which a large proportion of people generally do, even if you don't think you will when you are starting out).

        Deck is a pretty tough market place at the moment, especially with the cruise industry (one of the main employers for UK deck officers) having been destroyed by covid. There are only certain branches of the industry which employ British Officers and jobs are scarce, so there is a lot of competition. This will be made more difficult by a lack of experience when you first qualify.

        ??????Definitely take the offer with the possibility of a job at the end. There are stories on here of people spending months and months job searching when they qualify. The less chance of exposing yourself to that the better.


        • #5
          Yes it really is that bad.

          People will tell you that the industry goes in cycles and it will get better soon but I've been hearing that since I entered the industry over 10 years ago.
          You need to think carefully about weather you really want to work at sea or whether you could get a better job ashore.

          Also why do you like the other company that won't offer you the job? Is it because you will gain experience on specialist ships such as tankers or get DP time then it might be worth it as you will be in a better position when looking for a job. If its because you want to work deep sea cargo its its a waste of time, there is no future in that side of the industry for Brits. A lot of the companies that people look down on at collage like ferries or dredgers because they don't go anywhere exciting are the best ones, you will have better training from European officers and even if there is not a job for you at the end, you will have 12 months experience in a sector were British people actually work.


          • #6
            Also worth remembering that as a seafarer you are not entitled to many of the conditions that are a legal requirement for people working ashore.
            So in many cases shipping companies don't have to pay you things like sick pay, minimum wage, and redundancy. Also there is nothing to stop ship owners firing you based on your nationality.


            • #7
              Go for one with the potential job at the end - it's a no brainer IMO.

              As for the industry. Well, the whole world is a bit buggered right now, and people in hospitality and entertainment have even worse prospects at the moment, and for the foreseeable future; who knows how many jobs from that will even come back. So, perhaps we are a bit better off in that regard, I don't know. We are all a bit screwed to be honest. The only winners seem to be the WFH types, IT guys, coders etc. Not my cup of tea at all, tried it once and would rather chip and paint all day. I say that as not a very handy person too!

              All I know is that as a Cadet in their last phase, I'm trying to be optimistic and move forward. By the time you qualify, hopefully the industry will be in a better position, and the cruise sector will at least be sailing and making money again, as that is one place where British Officers were hired. And maybe you'll get a job from your sponsor at the end if you put in the work.

              All the best


              • #8
                Hi, it's OP. Thank you all very much for the replies. Reading this: I'll choose the one with the job. I've also applied for the RFA as the end goal is to join the RN oneday; waiting for my medical period to expire. Once again, thank you all very much for the replies, appreciate it very much.


                • #9
                  Definitely go forward for the company with history of hiring cadets post cadetship if you think the jobs for you and seriously considering sticking the course through.

                  I went into my cadetship blind, I couldn?t even remember the sponsors who I had chosen until I was told at college and I had no idea how bad the industry was. I was given a very good offshore company as sponsor but they were at the time being merged with another company. For my first sea phase I was on a ship that was predominately all English crew, had an excellent time on there but when time came for my 2nd sea phase, I was placed on the same ship and barely any of the British crew remained bar the master and c/o. The rest had been switched out with Eastern European crew from the company they merged with. Still managed to learn a lot and got good training but very eye opening to me the disconnection between crews and office. You?re just a number on a screen and they?ll replace you in a second if it?s more logistical to do so and these guys had been working on the vessel for years.

                  I qualified last year but content with the shore job I have now.


                  • #10
                    Would you mind sharing which companies they are? could offer some more insight.


                    • #11
                      You?ll hear different things from different people. If you talk to the thousands of seafarers in work most will tell you it?s a great job, if you talk to those unemployed most will tell you it?s a crap job. I?m sure if someone cared to do some searching we?d probably see that there are thousands of UK nationals employed as MN officers and that a large proportion of them are at retirement age meaning likely opportunity increases over the next 5-10 years.

                      Recruitment is obviously slow during COVID (cruises have almost frozen hiring, and they?re one of the bigger employers of Brits) but there has been some movement on jobs in the last fortnight, one tug company had a drive for OOWs (including newly qualified) in Liverpool and Belfast, BAS were advertising for OOWs and EOOWs for a few days - unsure if these people enter talent pools or actually go aboard as soon as they?re hired.

                      It may help if you post which two companies you have offers from so people can advise on pros/cons of each company. I?m happy if you want to PM me this if you?re uncomfortable posting the company names, although I?m confident nobody will be able to identify you from that info anyway.

                      Generally your enjoyment is important but it depends when you want that enjoyment, you could have a fun cadetship then face the misery of unemployment or you can have a meh cadetship and then enjoy the fun of being an employed officer. Without knowing anything about your chosen cadetship department nor companies, I?d advise the latter.

                      In general shipping doesn?t seem much different to other professions at the moment. From school I?d say the only people who went into professions where they were guaranteed good jobs after qualifying were those in medicine or those that went into skilled trades. I?m fairly confident I?ve made it further in shipping than my school friends have done in mechanical/civil engineering, vets, accounting, law etc because they have much harder job markets to compete in with each job opening actively taking applications from ANY qualified person including foreign nationals not currently in the UK. Obviously their earning potential is huge but few appear to have made it; the ones that have made it have put huge amounts of extracurricular effort in and are huge into networking, these things appear to be the mark of the successful modern day seafarer as well.

                      If you embark on the journey get on LinkedIn early on so you?re confident on how it works by the time you qualify and hopefully will have a wide, diverse and international network. Getting yourself endorsed by industry leading professionals opens doors that will never open to the public. This goes goes for any profession should you choose otherwise.


                      • #12
                        That line about there being a large proportion of officers about to retire and there will be opportunities to fill the gaps in 5-10 years just isn't true. I've been hearing that since before I started my cadetship over 10 years ago and there is still a surplus of officers and a shortage of jobs. It's just a line rolled out by the union and and training providers to encourage more young people into a dead end industry so they can continue to profit.


                        • #13
                          The two companies are Zodiac and PG Tankers. Ideally first choice would be the RFA but don't have high hopes about that because it's mighty competitive. It's also closer to the Royal Navy which is the end goal but we'll see


                          • #14
                            Avoid Zodiac. No chance of a job at the end and questionable standards of training (from what I've heard from the many people I've encountered over the years who did their cadetship there).

                            PG Tankers I don't know a massive amount about but I understand they do employ British officers and you will get a DCE which opens the door to working on tankers post qualification which is certainly a good thing to have.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Guest View Post
                              The two companies are Zodiac and PG Tankers. Ideally first choice would be the RFA but don't have high hopes about that because it's mighty competitive. It's also closer to the Royal Navy which is the end goal but we'll see
                              Absolute no brainer go for PG tankers, you'd have to be nuts to choose zodiac.


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