The communicative competence of Chinese seafarers and their employability in the international maritime labour market
Fan, L and Fei, J and Schriever, U and Fan, S, The communicative competence of Chinese seafarers and their employability in the international maritime labour market, Marine Policy, 83 pp. 137-145. ISSN 0308-597X (2017) [Refereed Article]
In the past two decades, the seafarer workforce in China has been growing at a much faster pace than that of the Chinese merchant fleet, resulting in an oversupply of seafarers in the domestic market. As one of the major seafarer suppliers in the world, China still faces great challenges to assign Chinese seafarers to the international maritime labour market. Although literature claims that a lack of English communication ability of Chinese seafarers is one of the main barriers for them to compete with seafarers of other nationalities for job opportunities, there is little empirical research to substantiate such claim. To fill this gap, this paper aims to investigate: 1) employers’ views on the current level of Chinese seafarers’ communicative competence; and 2) to what extent their communicative competence correlates with their employability in the international maritime labour market. To achieve the research objectives, a questionnaire survey relating to factors affecting the employability of Chinese seafarers on foreign ships was conducted. Interviews were carried out with employers who had been recruiting seafarers in China. The findings show that English communicative competence is among the top determinants for seafarers to be employed on foreign ships. Most employers believe that there has been a declining trend in the communicative competence of Chinese seafarers over the last decade. Employers interviewed agree that a high priority should be placed on the improvement of quality of maritime English teachers.
communicative competence, effective communication, maritime English, multicultural and multilingual crew, Chinese seafarers, shipowners, crew management, maritime education and training