Salary Survey in Marine Industry Reveals Results

A salary survey conducted within the UK marine industry has revealed higher than average salaries when compared to those working ashore.

The results from the first ever national marine industry salary survey, conducted by Marine Resources, reveals a range of insights into the current state of the employment market in the UK, highlighting a number of positives, as well as areas for improvement. 

The survey results reflect responses from 4,665 individuals, with results provided by employees directly, as well as employers submitting their employee’s information over a three month period.

However careful reading of the survey finds that there is a large pay disparity within marine industry sectors.  While gender-based pay inequality within the industry has been found to be statistically lower than national average, it still represents an area for improvement.

The number of young people entering the industry is an area of concern.  The survey also found that poor levels of pay and a lack of training represent key concerns for employees.  Attracting talent from outside the industry remains a major challenge according to employers.

Salaries and pay equality

The average salary across the marine industry was recorded at £38,660. This is 5.3% above the ONS’ latest results (October 2019), which state the UK’s average salary is £36,611. However, the survey also highlights that 71.90% of those surveyed are based in Southern England (South East: 34.90%, South West: 27.40%, London: 9.60%) and therefore exposed to the higher living costs associated with the region.

When reviewing salaries by age, the survey reveals that average income increases consistently between the ages of 18 and 44. However, industry employees aged 45 and over face a more complicated employment landscape, with those in the leisure sector seeing their earnings decrease, whereas those in the superyacht and maritime sectors see their earning potential continue to grow. The picture within the offshore and commercial sectors is even more complex, with average wages decreasing for those aged 45-54, and increasing again for respondents aged 55-64.       

Results relating to the gender pay gap show that men in the industry are paid on average 9.74% more than their female colleagues. When compared to the latest figures for the UK as a whole (17.3% for full and part-time employees combined, source: ONS), the marine industry is ahead of the national average. 

Gender pay inequality

In addition to highlighting the overall level of gender pay inequality, the survey results reveal some other concerning disparities between the sexes when it comes to career progression. For example, 33.59% of female respondents earned less than £25,000, compared to just 14.28% of males. Equally, at the other end of the salary range, the same applies with only 10% of females earning over £55k, compared with 25% of males. 

Within the specific sectors of the marine industry, those working within the leisure sector are paid the least, with the average annual salary recorded as £37,490. At the other end of the scale, those in the superyacht and offshore/marine renewables sectors reported average annual salaries of £50,750 and £60,640 respectively. 

Recruitment challenges

The survey revealed a number of interesting findings relating to the roles that employers struggle to fill most often, as well as the difficulty they have in attracting talent from outside the marine industry, and the demographics of the industry. 

Roles within the field of engineering were listed as the most in-demand, with 37.1% of employers including it in their response. Design and technical roles took second place with 27.8%.

These results were supported by employers’ responses to another question, which asked them to name the roles they find it hardest to recruit for. Engineering roles again took the top spot, with 17.5% of all those surveyed highlighting them as the hardest to recruit. Engineering was followed by technical sales roles, with 15.5% of respondents struggling to fill vacancies in this area. 

Respondents were also asked to provide their opinions on why they found hiring specific roles difficult. The most common reasons cited by employers were high salary expectations, the low number of qualified candidates available, appeal of contract working, and the drain of talent from the marine industry to other industries offering higher pay. 

Talent drain

Conversely, administration and general sales roles were listed as the easiest to recruit for, with 36.2% and 17% respectively. The reduced requirement for specific skills and qualifications, along with low barriers to transferring skills from other industries, were listed as some of the reasons why this was the case.  

The perceived talent drain within the industry, which was acknowledged by a notable percentage of employers as a key reason they struggle to recruit specialist positions, is supported by the survey’s results, with 59% of employees stating that they would consider moving to another industry away from marine. 

The survey also identified a concerning lack of young people entering the industry, with just 2.97% of those surveyed aged under 25. This compares to a reasonably even split across the other age brackets, with 27.30% aged 25-34, 23.04% aged 35-44, 24.33% aged 45-54, and 19.62% aged 55-64. 

The survey also explores levels of employee satisfaction with their pay and overall package, with 31.01% agreeing with the statement: “I believe I am paid fairly, relative to my market”, compared to 33.59% who disagreed. 30.68% of those questioned also agreed with the statement: “I am currently satisfied with my overall employment package”, with 37.98% disagreeing.  

Commenting on the results, James Ward, managing director for Marine Resources, said: “The survey has revealed a lot of new information but also confirmed many of the opinions we already held. It is great to see the gender pay gap below the national average but it’s clear that more investment is required to reduce it to zero and attract more women into the industry. Equally clear is employers’ need to do more to support those entering the marine industry, with regular training and better levels of renumeration as they progress their careers if they want to retain the best talent. 

Talent retention is an issue that was commented on by a high number of respondents, with the need for employers to review their investment in training, workplace culture, and overall levels of pay all seen by employees as being areas in need of improvement. 

The survey results support concerns employers have regarding recruiting experienced employees, with wages not rising in line with experience in several areas and a willingness from employees to leave the world of marine to work in other specialist industries. 

Recruiting concerns

We can see from the results that a shortage of specialist skills is already an issue, and this is only going to get worse if employers don’t respond to what they are being told by their employees and address the issues head on. With a concerningly low level of under 24s in the industry, and with a lack of training identified as a separate issue, it is easy to see that significant challenges are coming down the road if investment isn’t forthcoming.  

It is also interesting to note the difference in levels of pay between different sectors within the industry. It could be easy to conclude that the leisure marine sector doesn’t pay as well as other sectors but that doesn’t take into account the nature of the roles. The leisure marine sector has a significant percentage employed in customer service-related positions, which naturally don’t command the wages of specialist roles. All these details are available in the report, so it makes for a very interesting read when you drill down into it.”