With the global population expected to swell to a projected 2.1 billion by 2050, a need for more skilled and skilled-equivalent marine engineers has become an urgent issue for governments and industry alike.
In a survey by global marine engineering company Global Marine Engineering (GME), the United States ranked as the country with the most marine engineers at 4.5 per cent of its workforce.
The UK, with the highest number of seafarers, ranked second with 3.5.
A majority of these engineers were employed in the private sector, while in the public sector, the proportion was 2.4 per cent.
The survey, which covered a wide range of industries, revealed that while there are more opportunities for seafarers to get into marine engineering than there are jobs for seafaring in the wider world, the overall shortage of seafaring professionals is clear.
The United States, with a workforce of 6.8 million seafarers and an average age of 39, has the highest percentage of seafarer-specific marine engineers.
The highest concentration is found in the oil and gas sector, with 33 per cent, followed by construction, manufacturing and utilities.
In comparison, the UK has a workforce which is at 2.3 per cent and the US at 1.5 percent.
However, both these countries have a higher proportion of seafared professionals than the rest of the world.
In the case of the US, this reflects a greater proportion of working professionals from the oil industry.
As the number of offshore drilling rigs continues to rise in the United State, this has created a demand for more seafarers.
In contrast, the US has more seafaring industry professionals than any other country.
The United States is the country that has the most seafaring engineers per capita, with an average of 6,826 per 100,000 people.
It has also the highest ratio of seafares to workers, at 4:1.
The US is followed by Germany, Italy and France with a ratio of 2.7:1 and 1.4:1 respectively.
The UK has the lowest ratio of seawarers to workers at 0.5:1, followed closely by Australia with 0.3:1 per 100 people.
The US has the largest number of seawaring engineers in the world, with more than 50,000 in the country’s workforce.
This includes more than 23,000 marine engineers, more than 9,000 engineers in industry, 3,500 engineers in private sector and a further 12,000 seafarers working in government.
In Europe, the Netherlands has the second highest number, at nearly 8,500 seafarers per 100 workers.
This compares with more of a 1,800 per 100 in the US.
In South Africa, there are only 3,100 seafarers in the workforce and only 2,400 in the government sector.
In the UK, there is more than 1,000 and in Germany there are 4,000.
The countries that have the lowest number of marine engineers per person are France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
While the UK is not among the highest-ranked countries, it has been one of the lowest-ranked in the survey.
The Netherlands, Germany and Spain are the only countries that rank below Australia, with France and Spain the worst in this regard.