Severe shortage of qualified workers

The November release of the Marine Industry Workforce Assessment, a 35-page report of statistics and insights by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) clearly shows that marine dealers are faced with a severe shortage of qualified workers.

The assessment represents survey insights from 517 marine industry businesses representing more than 1,300 locations across North America (49 US states and three Canadian provinces). The MRAA says that the dealership locations represented in this survey ‘account for nearly 43% of the entire market giving the data provided a margin error of 2.1%’.

It showed that more than 20% of the positions that marine dealers budgeted to have on their payrolls in 2016 are currently unfilled. Put another way there is an average of 3.8 vacant positions at dealerships today. The problem gets worse looking forward as respondents reported they would need to fill on average six more positions – 3.5 full-time and 2.6 part-time – by 2019. The MRAA believes that if you project these numbers out over the 3,100 dealerships across North America the industry could be looking at a shortage of more than 30,000 employees in the very near future.

Some of the reasons for the shortage included job seekers are not showing interest in the marine industry; other industries offer higher salaries; the seasonality of the boat business makes it difficult to retain employees and slim profit margins at the dealer level make hiring and retaining even more challenging.

Initiatives are underway to help solve the problem including connecting the goals of the industry with those of the marine industry technical schools as well as promoting the industry as a great place to work. What a concept! After all, there are those of us who remember when a job in this industry offered a great lifestyle!

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