Dutch shipping

Maritime labour market


The shipping industry is part of the ‘Maritime labour market’. The global character of the shipping industry comes with a highly internationalized labour market. About 30,000 jobs are directly linked to the Dutch shipping industry. Seafarers are often young and, after about seven years, they continue their careers elsewhere – typically within the broader scope of the maritime cluster. It is for this reason that the shipping industry is often seen as an ‘incubation sector’ for the labour market of the entire maritime industry.

What’s it like to work in the Dutch maritime market? Here below is an explanation.

A day at sea

Working at sea

Dutch seafarers have a reputation for being highly qualified professionals and are almost always maritime officers. There are about 5,000 Dutch seafarers employed on board the Dutch fleet and about 22,500 seafafarers with a different nationality. It is not possible otherwise, because there are not enough masters with the Dutch nationality, to point out but one example.

Life as a mariner can be quite lonely; crews usually consist of a handful of people and, after work, you cannot spend time with family or friends. On the other hand, that small team of people are the ones who ensure that consumers all over the world have access to traded goods. To thank them for this valuable work, in 2010, the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) created a commemorative day – the annual Day of the Seafarer. The event takes place on 25 June, when special attention is paid to seafarers and the work they do. Together with the seafarers trade union Nautilus International, the Maritime Families Association (Vereniging Maritiem Gezinskontakt) and other organisations committed to seafarers' well-being, the KVNR organises a Dutch edition of the Day of the Seafarer.

Onshore work

Operations at sea must be supported from shore, with shipping companies taking the responsibility for such tasks. Such onshore logistics coordinate a variety of activities, ranging from the transport of goods and fresh products, to the commissioning of offshore construction projects, for instance. Shipping companies also employ people to manage quality and safety regulations, thus creating a working environment committed to safer conditions at sea. Other onshore tasks include human resources, economic management, and ship and technology design. In the Netherlands, around 2,500 people work for onshore organisations.

Working abroad

Due to the Schengen Agreement, national borders in Europe have become much less of a hindrance to travel. As a country with an international view of the world, the Netherlands naturally believes in efficient international travel, so long as safety is not compromised. This is also applicable to the international labour market for seafarers, who have to fly all over the world for crew changes.