For the last two years, Spanish nautical association ANEN (Asociación Nacional de Empresas Náuticas) has been working closely with the Spanish Education Ministry to develop two new degree courses in pleasure yacht building, maintenance and repair.

Carlos Sanlorenzo Ferri, secretary general of ANEN, hopes that the completion of the project is in sight. “Once the courses are ready for the public, we want to launch them in an integrated centre for nautical trades,” he explains. “Marina Valencia has offered us the possibility to set up this centre in their facilities, specifically at the America’s Cup base.”

Sanlorenzo adds, however, that there are currently still some points outstanding with the public administration that he believes will be resolved shortly. ANEN’s intention is to start the courses in 2018 or 2019 at the latest.

While on the face of it the initiative may have a minor impact on the Spanish superyacht sector, perhaps encouraging some fresh faces into the new build and refit and repair sectors, ANEN’s agenda is looks at the bigger picture. Wanting to continue the tremendous momentum the yachting industry has gathered in Spain since the growth within the charter sector, the association now sees another barrier for the yachting industry as public opinion.

ANEN, along with other Spanish associations including AEGY (Asociación Española de Grandes Yates) and AENIB (Asociación de Empresas Náuticas de las Islas Baleares), invest a lot of time and effort into educating politicians and public administrative organisations at all levels on the economic value of the superyacht sector. However, there is still a perception within Spain that it is a rich person’s sector.

Spain has one of the highest under-25 unemployment rates in the whole of the Eurozone, and the average person on the street still feels the impact of the recession. What the associations have realised is that they need to educate people that the industry provides jobs and economic benefits in order to change the general mentality. Internationally it is well accepted that the superyacht industry brings economic growth, but in Spain there is still a battle to be had.

Through the work of the associations, however, the public perception of yachting is improving. With initiatives such as the Valencia training centre looking more likely, ANEN’s campaign to teach the Spanish society that superyachts stimulate the economy is in full swing, with the realisation that the best way to do so is to target students and educate them about the career opportunities the sector presents.

Spain’s shore side superyacht sector, Mallorca being a particularly good example, is largely dominated by an expat community, and ANEN hopes to achieve a more equal playing field in order for the public and, by default, politicians, to show greater support of the sector.

Image: Carlos Sanlorenzo Ferri