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

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  • #16
    Anyone have any experience with the RFA? Because they are choice #1

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    • #17
      QUOTE=agibbs98;n176366]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.[/QUOTE]

      While I agree with many points made here I don?t quite agree how you, many recruiters and colleges use this point on cadets replacing these retiring seafarers. Even if the Proposed numbers are to be believed - if the large majority of british seafarers are those in senior ranks with decades of experience - who is to say they will be replaced by cadets qualifying in the next 10 years and not the Philippine, Eastern European etc officers who have been sailing under them for the same amount of time. A flawed argument and selling point for the career IMO. You may say these jobs are on vessels operating in and around Britain I.e. ferries but from what I?ve seen so far and speaking to qualified officers these are just as likely to be replaced by European officers.

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      • #18
        QUOTE=agibbs98;n176366]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.[/QUOTE]

        While I agree with many points made here I don?t quite agree how you, many recruiters and colleges use this point on cadets replacing these retiring seafarers. Even if the Proposed numbers are to be believed - if the large majority of british seafarers are those in senior ranks with decades of experience - who is to say they will be replaced by cadets qualifying in the next 10 years and not the Philippine, Eastern European etc officers who have been sailing under them for the same amount of time. A flawed argument and selling point for the career IMO. You may say these jobs are on vessels operating in and around Britain I.e. ferries but from what I?ve seen so far and speaking to qualified officers these are just as likely to be replaced by European officers.

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        • #19


          Originally posted by tropical
          While I agree with many points made here I don?t quite agree how you, many recruiters and colleges use this point on cadets replacing these retiring seafarers. Even if the Proposed numbers are to be believed - if the large majority of british seafarers are those in senior ranks with decades of experience - who is to say they will be replaced by cadets qualifying in the next 10 years and not the Philippine, Eastern European etc officers who have been sailing under them for the same amount of time. A flawed argument and selling point for the career IMO. You may say these jobs are on vessels operating in and around Britain I.e. ferries but from what I?ve seen so far and speaking to qualified officers these are just as likely to be replaced by European officers.
          This was my thought too. It's not a great argument to use, even though we could be doing with some good cheers right now, but I just don't think it adds up

          I suspect you will find that the market would rather hire cheaper labour, than replace ageing and EXPENSIVE British Senior Officers with their up and coming British counter parts.

          Another point which I contend is the usage of LinkedIn as the only useful networking tool, as it seemed to be implied. Many don't want to take part in social media anymore these days, and let's face it - LinkedIn has become a virtue signalling cringe fest of epic proportions. Basically the Facebook for work. Bugger that! I go to sea to get away from all that crap, not to take part in it!

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          • #20
            As for your sponsor choice I am unfamiliar with those 2 companies myself but I can give you some insight to the companies from my intake; only Shell (3), Whittaker tankers (1) and Carnival/Princess (4) have a decent chance if not guaranteed employment once qualified.

            The other 15/20 in my class, as far as I can tell, will be on their own. If I were to pick or recommend a company now it would be Shell as their onboard training seems to be very good, LNG vessel have good salaries, I think my intake says they will be on roughly 35/40k when qualified, they also do longer ocean passages to more exotic ports and across oceans, though who knows how they will be in 3 years? If you want to have a fun experience princess, carnival, BP and cruises through chiltern/Clyde seem to have really good sea phases - although the latter pays ?650 a month and covers the bare minimum expenses. The rest of peoples experiences seems to be around Europe or long distance container/bulk, eating bad food and being trained by non British officers (not saying they are bad) for tonnage tax purposes - me included.

            The argument about engineering, ETO or deck is also a tricky one as despite everyone saying engineers and ETOs are more likely to get jobs I saw 2 engineers a year out of college on LinkedIn today still unable to find a position - both did cadetships with BP though. Id imagine it would be easier to find jobs ashore as an EOOW and ETO though as you have more transferable technical skills - although I can?t answer that. I sometimes wish I did an engineering path as those jobs at my home transfer well and the seatime is only 8 months.

            I will end by saying that despite the difficulties you may have finding a job at sea post qualified if you haven?t picked your sponsor well, networked or gotten lucky - the opportunities at home may still be strong (if you?re willing to move to London epically): ship broking, crewing, CTV/Workboats/Tugboats, charterers, vessel operators, insurance, law, agents, port operations etc etc. You will also be able to gain a degree at relatively low cost and can still have good fun at college, save money if you?re smart about it, and if you get on cruises or some tankers see a good bit of the world and a different lifestyle to the 9-5. Ask me in a year and see how I found the job hunt for a NQO.

            A good study would be to have a list of all the last 5 years qualified OOW/EOOW graduates from all the UK colleges and to have a survey done to see what jobs each one is working. This would be a simple way to find out the ?truth?.

            Just some thoughts I have regarding my experience so far and some insight I wish I had starting out.

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            • #21
              I was a zodiac cadet and currently qualified deck officer. They are a pretty decent company but they didnt employ me after cadetship despite my best efforts and I have yet to find any company who will give me my first stamp. Believe me when I say that there is no OOW work going. I am working as an AB and I recently met another AB who has worked as a 2/O for years on cruises (until covid) and couldn't find officer jobs. Yes there are jobs, but not for newly qualified OOWs. My advice, GO WITH TANKERS. You will get tanker endorsement which will make you infinitely more employable compared to a zodiac tonnage tax victim and if you get hired after then you can change company when you have some stamps

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              • #22
                Originally posted by zrrhqgjv View Post
                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.
                I?ll ring up all of the 50+ year olds in the MNOPF currently sailing and tell them their retirement at 55 is cancelled then. 50% of P&O?s fleet alone contains these people in all ranks, mostly junior because of natural lack of higher opportunities.

                Ive never heard Clyde or Nautilus talk about retirements and opportunities, first I saw of it was when I was a 21 year old 3EO and the next youngest engineer onboard was 30 years older. Many of them have taken voluntary redundancy now, leaving huge gaps for when the fleet and timetable become more intense. Many are also still sailing and waiting for their final salary to kick in.

                Originally posted by tropical View Post

                While I agree with many points made here I don?t quite agree how you, many recruiters and colleges use this point on cadets replacing these retiring seafarers. Even if the Proposed numbers are to be believed - if the large majority of british seafarers are those in senior ranks with decades of experience - who is to say they will be replaced by cadets qualifying in the next 10 years and not the Philippine, Eastern European etc officers who have been sailing under them for the same amount of time. A flawed argument and selling point for the career IMO. You may say these jobs are on vessels operating in and around Britain I.e. ferries but from what I?ve seen so far and speaking to qualified officers these are just as likely to be replaced by European officers.
                I?d say the large majority of British seafarers are in junior ranks with most of them either ratings or junior officers having benefited from the old rating to officer scheme in the 90s (meaning it?s basically impossible for them to get to CO/2EO as they?ve no official schooling behind them).

                I?d be interested to know which qualified officers you?ve been talking to on ferries but as a qualified officer from ferries I?d estimate around 10% of officers are Eastern European on east coast crossings. Of this 10% I?d say 50% are British citizens living in the UK and the rest are Latvian/Estonian/Lithuanians paying an arm and a leg to fly to/from the UK 50 times per year, few of these stick around for long as they normally get better jobs on the Baltic ferries closer to home eventually. Filipino officers are almost non-existent on ferries unless they?re British citizens, I know of two. P&O tried it years ago but ended up getting screwed over massively by the UK government, now they only have one vessel on the Irish Sea with Filipino junior officers (something to do with the Dutch flag).

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                • #23
                  To the OP: it?s a no brainer, PG tankers for sure. You?ll end up with your dangerous cargo certificates and are guaranteed a job, not one of my friends was left unemployed after training with them. A couple are still with them 10 years on.

                  Zodiac is a very poor sponsor, I?d say they?re the worst sponsor possible in any metric. Think being sent to the other side of the planet to join a ship with 100% Chinese or Russian crew, then letting it be down to luck whether or not they like you.

                  On the other hand PG tankers mostly operate in the Caribbean/USA, often in port in nice paradise areas. During our cadetships the guys with them were sending us pictures of them having beers at Caribbean hotels etc.

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                  • #24
                    I'd verge towards going ETO or engineering purely for the skills that are transferable ashore that you don't really get with deck. It makes jobs market fluctuations at sea less stressful knowing you have a good chances of getting something ashore.

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                    • #25
                      100% go with PG! If I had my time again I definitely would have been pushing for a PG cadetship, I've heard great things about life on-board and apparently the company treats you really well. You'll be set for a good career with them (if you choose to stay that is rather than going to the dark side) and tanker experience is great for coming ashore. Best of luck with whatever you decide!

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by agibbs98 View Post

                        I?ll ring up all of the 50+ year olds in the MNOPF currently sailing and tell them their retirement at 55 is cancelled then. 50% of P&O?s fleet alone contains these people in all ranks, mostly junior because of natural lack of higher opportunities.

                        Ive never heard Clyde or Nautilus talk about retirements and opportunities, first I saw of it was when I was a 21 year old 3EO and the next youngest engineer onboard was 30 years older. Many of them have taken voluntary redundancy now, leaving huge gaps for when the fleet and timetable become more intense. Many are also still sailing and waiting for their final salary to kick in.

                        I don't know the specifics of how many seafarers are on the NMOPF due for retirement in the next few years but I suspect it is far less than the number of cadets due to qualify in that time. Also I don't believe that the retirement age of 55 is mandatory, as I have seen a lot of seafarers working well into their 60's.

                        But none of this changes the fact that the union, training providers and collages have been saying for years that there is a shortage of seafarers but there are no vacancies advertised. Nautilus regularly talked about a shortage of seafarers and the need to train more, I was certainly told by collages at open days and by training companies of the shortage of officers.

                        Obviously not all of use were lucky enough to stumble into an engineering cadetship on ferries and were always bound to struggle.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by zrrhqgjv View Post

                          I don't know the specifics of how many seafarers are on the NMOPF due for retirement in the next few years but I suspect it is far less than the number of cadets due to qualify in that time. Also I don't believe that the retirement age of 55 is mandatory, as I have seen a lot of seafarers working well into their 60's.

                          But none of this changes the fact that the union, training providers and collages have been saying for years that there is a shortage of seafarers but there are no vacancies advertised. Nautilus regularly talked about a shortage of seafarers and the need to train more, I was certainly told by collages at open days and by training companies of the shortage of officers.

                          Obviously not all of use were lucky enough to stumble into an engineering cadetship on ferries and were always bound to struggle.
                          MNOPF was one of the largest pension funds containing seafarers, British officers that were at sea before 1996 are likely to be in it. I haven?t met a seafarer over 40 that isn?t MNOPF. Retirement is never mandatory in the UK but most retire on dates that coincide with them being able to draw a certain pension; those who go past the low age of the MNOPF are likely to be waiting for their next pension to kick in, very few wait for the state pension from what I?ve seen. A lot of guys on the ferries wait for their Stena and/or British Rail pensions to kick in from the rail ferry days.

                          I would guess the Union are coming at it from the point of view that there are several cadet schemes directly feeding NQOs into employment in companies with ageing crews. The likes of PG Tankers, CUK and P&O Ferries have been training 100s of cadets directly for decades, and feeding them into the fleet to account for fleet expansion and crew retirement respectively. Obviously the likes of Zodiac don?t need cadets for these purposes, so attract a natural disadvantage over those companies. I believe the RFA is also struggling with crewing due to an ageing workforce hence several large cadet and recruitment drives over the last 5 years.

                          I can?t really comment for many companies but I know a good handful still recruit cadets for their own future workforce, these are absolutely the ones aspiring cadets should aim for.

                          A few claim to have been mis-sold the cadetship but I for one made sure I knew what I was doing before I chose my career and shaped my future... lurking on these forums steered me clear of one company back in 2010! Some of the guys I met at college had been researching cadetship for years before applying and waiting for specific companies to accept them. The OP has done well for questioning their opportunity and not blindly accepting what is offered, off the back of the advice they?ve received here they will probably make a successful career at sea!

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                          • #28
                            I work for PG. Did my cadetship with an Oil Major.

                            Few good things:
                            Good cadetship choice, you'll get your DCE,

                            good experience onboard - crew and officers generally have a very good standard of English (Guyanese crew, British/Polish Officers),

                            pay is fairly decent - 32k pa tax free.

                            The trading area is nice, plenty of sun.



                            Few not so good things.

                            You only do a HNC and it must be at South Shields - not necessarily so bad now but when the exemptions for Mates exams were a thing this made the difference between doing your Chief Mates in weeks vs a year.

                            Beer is now banned, used to be nice to go ashore and sit on the beach in Antigua and have a beer, no longer an option - has to be said that this is similar to all but a few companies now.

                            Brits are leaving, Poles are staying. Take from that what you like but the odds are you'll be sailing with senior Polish officers and Junior Brits. Good guys for the most part but I've had a few hard to work with..

                            You are busy. You do lots of cargo, in port generally a few times a week or more. Expect to be on 6 on/off a lot of the time.




                            Overall just as enjoyable, possibly more so than my previous job. There isn't so much paperwork, ships are smaller and crews are smaller. More of a family feel than a faceless major. Personnel are pretty good, flexible with giving you extra time on/off as needed and because you are only paid onboard - don't have as much as a hold on you.

                            They are also desperate for all kinds of officers just now - so if you have a DCE then apply!


                            To answer the "is it as bad as people make out". No.

                            The job is decent, conditions and pay decent. Admittedly if you struggle to get your first job it can be a vicious circle bit if you make it, it's good. Most of my friends did.

                            Covid has made me think twice about being at sea in general, long overdue on contracts, no shore leave etc. I'd rather be working ashore or UK coastal. Once I get my Masters I'll do exactly that. Another PG perk, they pay for your qualifications and study leave!
                            ?????

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                            • #29
                              Do PG tankers ever take qualified officers without tanker experience on low/no wages to get 3 months seatime on tankers and therefore a DCE?

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                              • #30
                                Unfortunately not. Not aware of any companies that do so as normal practice.

                                Best tip for potential cadets is go for that DCE. Oil possibly, Gas definitely.

                                ??????

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