If you are thinking about a career in shipbuilding, you may easily overlook the opportunities presented in the ship maintenance, repair and conversion industry. Ship conversion is often carried out as an alternative to building a new vessel, particularly in certain industry sectors, such as offshore oil, gas and mineral exploration. Europe is the world leader in conversion work, with about 40% of the global market. 

What opportunities are there?

The employment opportunities are similar to those described for shipbuilding, with opportunities at craft, technician and professional level. At craft level, in ship repair and conversion, the work requires the skills of steelworkers, welders, joiners and carpenters, plumbers, painters and electricians. At professional level, the skills of mechanical, electrical and electronic engineers, marine engineers and naval architects are all needed. 

Who are the employers?

The main employers are shipyards that specialise in repair and conversion work. The website of the Shipbuilders and Shiprepairers Association carries a ‘find a shipyard’ facility which gives a brief outline of the range of work undertaken by each company. 

What about future prospects?

Promotion prospects depend on the nature and size of the employer. Prospects for the industry as a whole are currently good.