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The established and rich tradition of the marine industry goes back generations, and today with a U.S. population of approximately 327 million, the marine industry faces the same challenge almost every labor market is facing; a rapidly aging work population. By later this year, about 25% of the U.S. workforce will be composed of older workers ages 55 and over. According to the Special Committee on Aging report by the United States Senate, the number of persons working past the age of 55 is at a historic high. Older workers are shaping the American labor force. Participating U.S. workers 25-54 are 64% of the workforce, while ages 55-64 represent 22%. The math is very simple; 86% of the participating workforce is getting old. It’s called “The Silver Tsunami”, and the marine industry needs to start thinking about its future workforce.

Technology & Attracting Youth To The Marine Industry

As the population demographic ages, the big question is; how can the marine industry attract a younger workforce? According to in Everett Washington, the maritime industry is growing, but the workforce is aging and when last checked, Washington’s maritime workforce typical worker was upwards of 54 years old. That’s likely a pretty typical average across North America. So why is there a challenge with 18-24 year old’s considering the marine industry as a career? Today’s youth are attached to technology. To not only survive but grow in the industry, we need to attract the next generation of marine industry employees. To do this, potential employees need to see how marinas and marine companies are using technology they are familiar with (smartphones, tablets and IOT devices) to improve efficiencies and communication. It would likely be close to impossible to find an 18-24 year old without a smartphone in hand, for some it seems to almost be surgically attached. Technology in the marine industry has now gone mobile and promoting the mobile capability to this age demographic is a natural first step to help attract talent. DockMaster is staying current with the latest technology by way of API partnership integrations. Being able to connect with the latest and most productive technologies that help marine based companies manage eCommerce, inventory & ordering, marina mobile apps and websites is now no different than other mainstream markets sectors.

Retaining Top Young Talent Is Next

Once you’ve tapped into the 18-24 age demographic, we are seeing several ways organizations are working hard to retain their top talent and help them start thinking about a long-term career path. One of the leading strategies is to get your business heavily involved with social media. Whether it’s students, new grads, or young working professionals……they all have a presence online and you need to be online as well to connect and relate. Youth believe that it is highly important for employers to have a strong social media online profile and that they understand what a social strategy is. Another strategy that helps to retain talent (and attract) is to acknowledge and profile them online. It could be an employee profile feature on your blog, and distributed to social media channels. It’s important to tell the online world about a young employee, profile their story and success in a peer-to-peer style, using language and formats that are popular with young people.

Offer Career Development and Growth Opportunities

Young top talent is no different than experienced employees, in that they want an opportunity for career development and advancement. Top performers naturally look for opportunities to always be learning and involved in projects, and anyway they can help grow a company. They want to be noticed by the boss and will be committed to building a career, if they recognize their employee is also committed to career development. In a recent Gallup Poll only 50% of Millennial workers plan to be with their company one year from now. For a younger generation, much of their career development initially needs to be focused on building the basic foundation for success. To facilitate this, provide simple plans showing them how to set and manage business expectations, report to management on achievements & milestones and understand accountability. Setting attainable goals for career advancement and providing an investment in leadership training to prepare them for succession planning is powerful and shows a strong commitment by an employer.

Today’s youth wants a career, but they need help to find the lighthouse through the fog. Empower your marine employees to be more independent, show them trust, offering a flexible work place and you will be on your way to attracting younger workers and enduring the future viability of your business.

DockMaster Software is an industry leading management system for marinas, boatyards, and boat dealerships. DockMaster includes Unit Sales, Prospecting and F&I with fully integrated financial management and numerous integrations with CRM applications, dealer websites and text/messaging services. The Service module includes estimating, labor tracking, and complete parts management with ordering/receiving, subcontractor fulfillment and invoicing. DockMaster Mobile allows technicians to clock on/off jobs from any mobile device. Visual Marina™ management includes storage & billing, occupancy tracking, reservations and dry stack management, including integrations to leading consumer applications for boat rentals, online reservations, concierge/launch scheduling and our new Fuel Integration with FuelCloud. DockMaster also includes Point of Sale, Order Entry with eCommerce and a complete accounting system. Learn more at and follow DockMaster on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn. Or email


  • Dan Nutt says:

    I grew up on a farm, and joined the USCG after high school. After 12 years in the USCG went into the US tug and barge industry. Retaining existing employees and attracting new personnel to the seagoing trades is not about technology and social media. It is about quality of life, sailing time balance with time at home, and job satisfaction. It used to be that an officer or seaman was valued for their skill as a mariner. Now, between international standards and domestic regulations, the mariner’s job has been reduced to a long hitch of being subjected to ever increasing paperwork requirements, mind-numbing checklists, and inflexible employers who continue to demand more, pay less, and rarely give the mariner the respect that they deserve. Never mind the ungrateful public and government machines that seek to throw you in jail at the slightest hint of a problem resulting in a so-called environmental crime. Now we are being insulted with the idea that vessel’s can really simply operate themselves while the crew size is reduced and the remaining crew is resigned to simply cleanup duty, and rebooting the computer when it inevitably will fail.

    The marine personnel issue looming in our industry is not something that can be solved with software or social media, or the largest army of self-serving consultants. It is going to take leadership.

  • Mateo Mariscal says:

    WoW!!! True definition of Entitlement. And total lack of earning sense, and being recognized to do a job, I think we can all agree upon. Being recognized before you do the job and earn the recognition, Well, we all know Millennials.

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