More and more owners are offering training packages as part of their crewmembers’ employment agreements. However, exactly what to offer crew is often a topic for discussion when considering the fact that yachting is a very transient industry for its workforce. How can an owner get round paying for a crewmember’s training, who then leaves with a new certificate to work for a new owner?

“In order to satisfy the owners to retain the crewmembers and help with payment of training course, I had various discussions with them. The problems are few, and with easy solutions,” Captain Antonio Gerini of M/Y Quest R tells The Superyacht Owner.

“Owners must be sure that the crewmembers will finish their contracts. It is not necessary for crew to stay for years, but to stay on board until the end of the contract should be compulsory,” continues Captain Gerini. “The problem is that sometimes crewmembers only stay for a short time and then the owners have a bad experience with this and they believe nobody will respect the contract … and they cut [their investments] into the crew courses.”

“Prices for the online training courses can be easily proposed to the boat’s owners, since the courses are quite cheap."
- Captain Carlo Summonti, M/Y Nataly

Captain Gerini raises an interesting point: does respecting the contract work both ways? “If an owner decides to cut the contract everything will be OK and they don’t care if they’ve paid for courses, but when it’s the opposite they feel that the crewmember is stealing money from their pocket.”

Captain Carlo Summonti of M/Y Nataly believes that two things have changed that make the offering of training packages even easier for owners. The first, he believes, is the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), which requires crewmembers hold valid certification, which means for a crewmember to even set foot in the yachting industry they must get their entry-level certificates. The result: “Owners today are less worried about the problems relating to crew certification costs,” says Captain Summonti.

Another influencing factor is the increasing popularity of e-learning, or online courses. These are often cheaper and are much easier to work into a financial package for crew. “Prices for the online training courses can be easily proposed to the boat’s owners, since the courses are quite cheap,” explains Captain Summonti.

But we then get back to the question of ensuring that crewmember stays on board once that training has been paid for. On board Nataly, the owner pays for 50 per cent of the crew training costs and the other 50 per cent is reimbursed upon completion of six months on board – a popular option for owners. Another option is that the crewmember is requested to sign an agreement to remain on board for a minimum number of months – though Captain Summonti believes this is only a border-line solution.

What’s more, it’s not in every industry that your employer will pay for all of your training that, most likely, will help you change jobs in the not too distant future. “Crew should have great respect towards owners or management who pay for their training,” asserts Captain Summonti. “They should do their best to regularly accomplish their duty or complete their service as per the contract, which is an investment for their future anyway. No one will raise any doubts about your moral integrity when they check your references and see this.” 

‘Morality’ is something Captain Gerini also believes plays an important role in this discussion. “Crew should be more professional and finish the contract, even if it is a very tough job. Make sure that in the mind of the owner you have done your best and you will be repaid with honesty and kind behaviour, and in the future you will be more likely to get help from the owner.”

In issue 63 of The Crew Report a number of captains shared their thoughts on who should be paying for crew training – download the PDF here.

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