Student Research

Managing Mariner Shortages in the Tugboat Industry

As a shortage of willing and qualified mariners grips the tugboat industry, companies are having an increasingly difficult time filling billets on their boats. In order to rectify this situation, tugboat companies must recognize the factors that contribute most to the shortage, and make institutional changes to remedy those factors. Increasing license regulations and the attraction of related industries are a couple of factors that are making it difficult to attract and retain qualified mariners. A longstanding shortage of qualified mariners from the previous generation and industry traditions that don’t appeal to the values of the new generation are compounding the issue. Focusing on training that helps mariners to overcome licensing challenges and promotes more rapid advancement will help to fill many roles. But companies must also become more attractive to new mariners as well. Increasing exposure at academies and vocational schools will prove invaluable. Attracting new tugboaters, though, will also require changing an industry culture to meet with the values of a new generation. In order to attract new mariners, companies must make changes that will be considered unorthodox in a very traditional industry.

A Capstone Project submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the California State University – Maritime Academy in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science in Transportation and Engineering Management with a specialization in Transportation

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