Seafaring Skills Census

The Seafaring Skills Census being undertaken by Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL), is the start of a comprehensive analysis of the skills and experience that are critical to Australia’s broader maritime industry.

Our first look will be at the skills and experience synonymous with our industry: seafaring. It is a skill set not just critical for working on ships, but also for ensuring the significant projects and infrastructure, so critical to Australia’s prosperity, can run efficiently and effectively.


As early as 2008, industry identified that the nurturing and development of seafaring skills in this country was on the decline, with the training task for the industry being left up to too few. If you have been involved in the Australian industry for a while, you may remember that in 2012, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport conducted the Australian Maritime Industry Census. This survey was part of a broader shipping reform process and it produced data which underpinned the subsequent Maritime Workforce Strategy released in 2013.

The six years since then have seen a further decline in the number of cadets and trainees coming through. This can be attributed to any number of reasons: the significant decline in the oil and gas sector, the further decline in the Australian coastal fleet and the costs of training. Furthermore, the current workforce is aging and the incentive to train does not exist for companies. The attraction of the Australian industry to the next generation of Australian seafarers is dwindling due to the lack of ongoing work but not the lack of interest in the sector.  We are hearing that ports, pilots and regulators are now having trouble finding the skilled candidates they need to fill the strategic roles they have ashore.

It is time to see where we are at, and what we will need as a nation.

MIAL champions the Australian maritime cluster and we are revisiting the state of the workforce, in addition to training projections that were made back in 2012.   We believe that, as an island nation, it is critical for Australia to maintain a core maritime skill set at least to ensure the efficient functioning of over 70 ports around the country, critical infrastructure and safety roles as well as supporting major projects, such as in offshore oil and gas, which are critical to the nation’s economy.

The opportunity to participate and provide invaluable industry information will be available from 2pm AEST Thursday, 17 August 2018 and will close at 5pm AEST Friday, 21 September 2018. We will present preliminary findings at MIAL’s SEA18 Conference: Skilling Our Maritime Nation in Canberra on October 15 & 16, 2018. MIAL will also contact all participants with the full report on our findings when it is released at the end of 2018.

If you are an employer of seafaring personnel or onshore staff with seafaring experience, please complete the MIAL Seafaring Skills Census. We greatly appreciate the time and valuable insight from participants that will help MIAL gain a clearer picture of our current and future workforce capacity and need.  Remember, it is not just ships that need these skills. 

For any further queries please contact MIAL on:

Phone: 03 9647 6000