All aboard! Seafarers union pushes to recruit workers

If you’re looking a job and tempted to turn to another area, you may want to reconsider that option.

Union estimates 20% of its members will retire in the next 5 years

The Seafarers International Union says 300 workers are needed immediately in Canada. (Supplied/

If you're looking for a job and tempted to turn to another area, you may want to reconsider that option.

The Seafarers International Union is starting a national hiring initiative in partnership with the Seafarers' Training Institute, Algoma Central Corporation, Canadian Steamship Lines and Groupe Desgagnés.

Seafarers are also known as sailors or merchant marines, and according to the union, many are set to retire in the next five years.

Seafarer Josh Sanders, who hails from Thessalon and Thunder Bay, says he started in the industry in 2006.

"At the time I had a friend in the industry so I could see the potential of a long and stable career," he said.

"You have the opportunity to earn more than $65,000 a year right out of school."

Josh Sanders is with the Seafarers International Union. (Supplied/

Duties for a seafarer include a variety of tasks such as serving up hot meals in the ship's galley, performing maintenance like cargo handling and working in the engine room on electrical and mechanical equipment.

Sanders says he enjoys adventure and working outdoors, so the field seemed like an ideal fit for him.

"This industry gave me the opportunity to sail on Canada's waterways," he said.

"As a result, I've been able to see every port from Thunder Bay to Halifax."

If you're looking for a job, but are running out of ideas, the Maritime Industry wants to talk with you. With hundreds of seafarers set to retire in the next five years, Canada's merchant marine industry is looking for young people to come aboard. 7:54

He says it's tough, but rewarding work.

"It requires you to get your hands dirty but at the end of the day you can take immense pride in the fact that you've done your best," he said.

Sanders says in the next five years, about 20 per cent of its members are expected to retire. On top of that, he says there's an immediate need for 300 workers.

With files from Wendy Bird


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