The war for young talent is universal. Many industries struggle to find and retain highly-trained employees—and technical staff seem to be the hardest to find of all. The maritime sector in particular is having a hard time replacing the knowledge and skills of its aging workforce. Venturn aims to attract young talent through our Young Professionals Programme, but we can’t do it alone; in this case study, we take a closer look at how cooperating with our clients gives us the competitive advantage.
The maritime industry is growing. The second half of the 2010s saw a recovering Dutch economy and a rise in vacancies in all sectors relevant to the maritime cluster. At the same time, the labor force is decreasing. Especially in the maritime sector, aging associated replacement demand is becoming more and more of an issue (source: Maritieme Monitor 2017). Traditionally, maritime careers were highly sought after due to the high starting pay and the chance to travel abroad. Sons would follow in their father’s footsteps and enter the industry. However, continuity is no longer so clear-cut. Today’s generation is more likely to prioritize easily accessible jobs that require less personal sacrifice1. While an aging workforce and the insufficient availability of highly trained technical personnel is felt across the board, the undesirable reputation and visibility problems the maritime sector has only contribute to the scarcity of staff.
Competing across sectors
“What’s happening is that the maritime industry is suddenly competing for talent with businesses that operate in completely different sectors. We’ve gained competitors that didn’t use to be competitors,” Niels Romme, Managing Partner at Venturn explains. And competition is fierce. Data analysts or supply chain managers possess skills that are applicable in a range of different industries. This means students with these abilities are spoilt for choice. “Our industry risks losing the war for talent to the bol.coms and Coolblues of the world.”
Generation Y is more educated and technologically adept than any generation before it. At the same time, it’s a generation with high standards that is not likely to stick to one type of job in their career. This complicates attracting and retaining people from this generation, particularly the ones with highly sought-after skills. The question is how the maritime industry can market itself as a more attractive option compared to other sectors. With a global unawareness affecting the industry’s chances in the war for talent3, the industry as a whole needs to work harder to let young people know the exciting opportunities a maritime career can offer them.
Young Professionals Programme
The answer lies in a proactive approach to introducing young talent to the maritime industry. We need to show young technicians their skills are valued through excellent career prospects and opportunities for self-development. Venturn’s Young Professionals Programme, for example, offers recent graduates an intensive 18-month training curriculum, during which they get the chance to put their recently acquired skills into practice. The Young Professionals get placed with different companies on a project basis, gaining experience with leading organisations in the industry. However, the programme’s flaw lies in the insecurity the Young Professionals experience when it is not yet clear what their next project will be.
But there are ways to combat this insecurity. A good example is our close cooperation with Den Hartogh Logistics, who have been with the VYP Programme since it took its first tentative footsteps. Niels elaborates: “We came in contact with a very talented graduate who was very interested in our training curriculum, but wanted more certainty on what type of assignments he would receive. Based on our experience, we thought he’d be a good fit at Den Hartogh, so we introduced him. It was a great match—but Den Hartogh wasn’t the only company that was impressed with him. With the combination of the training programme that our Young Professonial valued greatly and the clear-cut career prospect at Den Hartogh, we were able to win him over in the end.”
By combining a rigorous training curriculum with an exciting career prospect and working closely with our clients, Venturn is able to offer recent graduates more than they would receive if they were to apply for a position with any company directly. This benefits our clients too, as we support them in turning talented starters into full-fledged professionals.