A Spanish-led European Commission initiative to move towards European certification for yacht crew will hold it’s concluding conference on 20 September in Palma.

Begun in October 2011, the transnational recognition of European certification in vocational education and training (TRECVET) project has developed a comparison tool highlighting the differences between UK, German and Spanish yachtmaster training syllabi.

In the short term, this program could help Spanish sailors with the Patrón Profesional de Embarcación de Recreo (PPER) certification—the Spanish equivalent of Britain’s RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Commercial ticket—work on MCA and Red Ensign-flagged yachts, as it shows how the two requirements compare with each other.

But, says Oscar Siches, director of the Global Marina Institute, who will be attending the 20 September conference, any sailor seeking career advancement in superyachts today simply takes the RYA Yachtmaster course. “Top level Spanish sailors working in superyachts simply get their UK qualifications and the world opens up to them. That’s just what everyone does.”

While the efforts, under the auspices of the European Commission, are theoretically laudable, it’s not clear what, in the short term, superyacht crew will gain from these efforts. “Spanish sailors working on Spanish flagged yachts with Spanish certificates have a great deal of job security, so I don’t immediately see why they’d need this system to facilitate jumping into a British commonwealth or Red Ensight ship,” Siches said. “The same may apply to German sailors, and presumably other countries in Europe.”

Taking the long view, it’s conceivable that in 15 years or so, a European certification will become available, and the TRECVET mechanism will, by then, have facilitated the translation and transfer of national certifications between countries and likely led to a continent-wide harmonization of syllabi, so that sailors schooled in Barcelona, Viareggio, Amsterdam and Athens have passed equivalent exams and are equally certified.

The TRECVET comparison tool, however, still needs some improvement, as initial consideration of the discrepancies between national syllabi showed more difference in item naming than actual content.