Globalization has created a resurgence in the business of sending and receiving goods by ship, so much so that the industry is suffering a worker shortage at the management level.

A Portland-based trade group representing port and terminal executives hopes to help remedy the problem by recruiting and cross-training professionals with related skills such as those developed while working on merchant ships or in the military.

Leaders of the International Association of Maritime and Port Executives say their industry is actively seeking armed forces veterans and merchant mariners skilled in logistics – the process of planning, implementing and controlling procedures for the efficient and effective transportation and storage of goods.

The association has scheduled a free seminar Oct. 27 in Portland for veterans and mariners. The goal is to attract workers who have recently transitioned out of the military or are interested in switching from a career on ships to one based on land.

“These are good-paying jobs, and there’s a shortage,” said Capt. Jeffrey Monroe, the association’s director of education and standards.

The manager shortage stems from decades of decline in the port and terminal industry, during which time fewer aspiring executives entered the field, Monroe said. Now, the current generation of managers is aging out of the profession just as business is picking up, he said.

“The economy has bounced back, and container trade is huge right now,” Monroe said.

Young people have been entering the profession recently, he said, but they lack the experience to fill those more senior positions. That’s why the association is seeking more experienced professionals from other backgrounds with related skills.

“One of the consistent issues I hear about is lack of qualified people,” Monroe said. “It’s like there’s an entire generation missing.”

The seminar, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., is at the International Marine Terminal. It will cover topics such as the worldwide transportation system, the port industry, public port and private terminal management, and industry opportunities, the association said.

Port operations managers facilitate the loading and unloading of ships. Their salaries vary widely based on employer, location and experience level, but the national average is $58,000, according to federal labor statistics.

John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority, said logistics plays an important role in most industries. In the commercial transportation world, there are logisticians working for ports, ship operators, rail and trucking firms. They are also referred to as supply chain managers.

“Every large company usually has a logistics manager or a logistics group,” Henshaw said.

Automation has reduced the overall number of jobs at ports since their heyday 30 or so years ago, he said, but globalization has reversed that shrinking trend in recent years as more and more goods are sourced from overseas. The maritime and port industries have been most affected by the reversal.

“The vast majority of products we receive come by ship,” Henshaw said.

The demand for port managers isn’t as strong in Maine as it is in other major cities along the Eastern Seaboard, he said.

“It gets a lot higher as you move down the coast, particularly in New York,” Henshaw said.

Joe Manchaca, supply chain services director for Satellite Logistics Group, said the Houston-based supply chain services provider to the beer industry decided to become a sponsor of the Portland event out of a desire to help veterans.

“It’s a cause that not only myself but Satellite Logistics supports,” Manchaca said.

Space will be limited for the free seminar, which can only accommodate up to 25 attendees. Qualified applicants who are currently unemployed will be given first priority, the association said. Those interested in applying can contact the association via email at [email protected] or by calling 239-2726.

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