Overall, maritime transportation industry employment in 2017 was healthy from this recruiter’s perspective. However, it was a year of tremendous upheaval.
Ocean carrier consolidations led to a significant reduction in hiring compared to the last few years. In order to retain their employment, some staff have been required to reapply for their own jobs, and many seem to be forgoing outside opportunities, hoping that there will be a role for them within the newly aligned organization. Those affected have generally fallen into two camps: those wishing to stay in the ocean carrier sector, despite its uncertainty, and those seeking employment in less volatile areas of the industry.
Hiring by terminal operators was robust in the first half of 2017, but in the final half, efforts to unionize management positions on the West Coast significantly impacted filling front-line operational jobs. Openings still exist, but hiring has cooled, and we hope for a turnaround in the coming year.
In 2016, I noted that the port sector had numerous vacancies, but that often, for various reasons, jobs went unfilled. That trend continued in 2017. Retirements at the executive level continued to create opportunities for well-groomed successors or external hires. Succession planning was a particularly hot topic in 2017 and will likely remain so as organizations try to cultivate the next generation of leaders from within.
Of note in 2017 was the significant hiring growth we saw within the equipment leasing sector, with firms hiring highly regarded professionals at the executive and management level, many from ocean carriers. Compensation has shown to be competitive, and there is often flexibility in where employees can be domiciled, which plays a huge part in helping those companies attract the best possible candidates.
2017 was an unusual year in many ways, but hiring was surprisingly steady overall. We are optimistic that it will remain so in 2018, and the lure of this ever-changing industry will continue to attract and retain talented professionals.