Shipping industry: how far we’ve come and where we’re going (and how to get there)


By Dr. Iliana Christodoulou-Varotsi,

Lloyd’s Maritime Academy Course Leader & Industry Consultant
(November 2021)

The past couple of years have been turbulent for the shipping industry but there have been positive developments too. According to UNCTAD, the global commercial shipping fleet experienced the highest growth since 2014, amounting to more than 98,000 commercial ships (100 gross tons and above) – a 4.1 per cent rise in recent years. According to the same source, the fastest growth was observed in gas carriers, oil tankers, bulk carriers and container ships. In 2020, merchandise trade fell by 5.4 per cent and international shipments by 3.8 per cent; yet there are projections about growth over the 2022-2026 period. That said, in containerised shipping, high freight rates in 2021 are starting to impact consumer goods (UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2020 and 2021).

In addition to addressing (more effectively) the human factor issues, the biggest challenges at present in the shipping industry include remaining viable and compliant while succeeding at cost-cutting and embracing sustainability. Not only sustainability is a societal demand, but also a multi-faceted requirement embedded even in lending decisions of financial institutions as suggested by the concept of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG). In this vein, more than 150 industry leaders and stakeholders have provided the impetus to decarbonise international shipping by 2050, and there are new technologies and solutions emerging that will play an important role in helping to decarbonise the industry, including energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

There are interesting developments on the regulatory agenda – shipping in Arctic waters, exploring cap-and-trade schemes instead of limiting their approach to prescriptive regulations, and providing the impetus on clean ship recycling, to name but a few.

These trends occur at the same time as the international community faces prolonged challenges relating to seafarers’ health, crew changes, and compliance over repatriation. IMO’s Industry Recommended Framework of Protocols for Ensuring Safe Crew Changes and Travel During the Pandemic and ICS Roadmap for Vaccinations of International Seafarers provides valuable guidance for maritime professionals during challenging times.

But where is the international maritime community heading?

This changing and highly demanding landscape makes it necessary to increase awareness and enrich the knowledge of shipping business and maritime transport. Not only maritime professionals must be informed about the recent developments, but they also must be in a position to place what is happening in a wider context, as well as use the most relevant takeaways for informed decision-making. Updating the knowledge and understanding of the background to commercial, legal, technical and financial drivers in the shipping sector is the aim of Lloyd’s Maritime Academy’s Certificate in Shipping Business course.

Lloyd’s Maritime Academy’s Certificate in Shipping Business course provides an essential and comprehensive introduction to the shipping industry. This is a 12-week programme, delivered exclusively online and supported by a discussion forum where industry expert Dr. Iliana Christodoulou-Varotsi, in her capacity as the Academic Course Director, facilitates the discussions and tutors distance learning. The course combines multiple learning formats including videos and interviews with leading industry experts who share their insights and experiences with the students.

Whether you are a seafarer interested in enhancing your understanding, a company employee eager to expand and update your knowledge, or a new entrant to the shipping business, this course will contribute to your professional growth and personal development. The programme is ideal for officers and ratings at sea, personnel ashore, investors, lawyers, new entrants, maritime administrators, NGOs and naval personnel in transition to the private sector.

Past students wrote about the course: “Comprehensive coverage of topics. I can’t think of any area I was interested in that wasn’t covered”; “I enjoyed how the course summed up the most important aspects of shipping in only six modules, with such clarity”; “The online tutoring has been excellent!”.

Lloyd’s Maritime Academy is the world’s largest provider of accredited professional development programmes for maritime professionals. With over 40 years of experience and more than 2000 students enrolling every year, Lloyd’s Maritime Academy provides the knowledge and skills for a successful and meaningful career in shipping.

For more information about the Certificate in Shipping Business, please visit the course website or email one of the Lloyd’s Maritime Academy Education Consultants at