News & Updates

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View From The Bridge – October 2020

Oct 01 2020

It has been some considerable time since I last wrote my view from the bridge – Dec 19 in fact. I’m not sure where the year has gone and so much has changed, but so much is still the same!

Brexit is back on the agenda and the real threat of our inability to utilise EU crew post Jan 31st 2021. There is confusion on whether we can operate as a sponsor for Visas, how the frontier workers will be treated and what the rules will look like in the coming year. Where are we going to find all the ratings domestically to fill the positions? We have been using a significant number of ex Officer Cadets to fill ratings vacancies recently and it is very pleasing to see them develop and improve their seamanship skills. Subsequently many of them have been offered Officer positions.

Minimum wage for crew on domestic voyages is now around the next headland, in October 2020. The ships we are involved with on the domestic trade are already on living wage compliant salaries, it’s the Visa issue that is the real bull in the china shop. Operators who are now going to have to increase salaries significantly have been hit with a double whammy – minimum wage compliance and the Covid-19 fall out.

Covid-19, where to start? We looked at China in December and thought it’s not much worse than the flu, who could have predicted what was coming? As we enter the Autumn we are no clearer with the future, there are so many varying press reports on the second wave, the vaccine, divergence of the four nations strategies to deal with it and bricks being hurled at each other, everyone is looking for someone to blame. In fairness it is disappointing at how some of it is being handled – the current issues around testing and how the testing is being prioritised. If we look at where we are with the current volumes of testing compared to earlier in the year, is it any wonder it’s a struggle? Many countries seem to be in a similar predicament. Before aiming criticism, it may be wise to look domestically at some of our own issues in terms of infrastructure and delayed delivery of notable projects.

We have all faced an unsettling year, striving for a new version of what is normal. For someone who travels regularly, I have not been on a business trip since February and we all dream about the familiarity of visiting friends, relatives or going on a foreign holiday. Any benefits gained from the lack of business travel pales into insignificance compared to the loss of normal seasonal business. We are holed and taking some water, but far from sunk. Our digital investment is starting to pay significant dividends in terms of allowing us to fill jobs faster, reduce the heavy administration burden, demonstrate GDPR compliance and engage better with candidates and clients. What was a concept I only imagined in 2015, has been developed into a fully functioning reality – this is the shining beacon in amongst such troublesome times.

Historically Clyde Marine Recruitment utilised various third-party database systems, high street and Marine specific. None of them were able to provide the features we required or new features we wanted. They were expensive off the shelf and any customisation outside the normal was simply eye watering.

Our digital journey continues, soon we will have the ability to provide Clients a real-time overview of temporary personnel on contract using their mobile device or via the online portal. We are further automating processes and providing other useful functionality. Soon we will provide the employer with the candidate’s full digital profile and confirmation of recommendation to employ , allowing a substantive employment decision to be taken. All the data is kept away from normal email traffic avoiding heavy attachments and making matters more efficient.

If you would like to find out more on this or how our crew coordinators can bypass the normal recruitment teams  filling positions directly – visit, this is the system we have developed and are now using on a daily basis.

So, what lies ahead? There does not appear to be any ‘moon shots’ emerging which can be relied on. Perhaps next summer season will look similar to this one, which will provide real challenges to all businesses. January 1st may bring gridlock to the South East of England as borders are no longer seamless. With regards to the virus, one can only hope we do find further treatments and a vaccine so we can return to the normal we all dearly miss.

I wish you all my very best in these challenging times.

Please stay safe and steady as she goes.

Ian Livingstone
MD, Clyde Marine Recruitment