“Generally speaking, in commercial shipping the cost of crew training is borne by the owner or operator, enabling them to retain their investment in the crew through a fixed-term training contract," explains Döhle Yachts technical officer Matt Gough. "For example, if the owner were to pay for an officer to advance to the next level of qualification, the crewmember would be contracted to remain in their employ for a set period of time. But due to high crew turnover, a lack of longevity and salaries that are favourable when compared to those serving in the commercial sector, owners can be reluctant to invest in training and it is understandable why this is the case.”
“From an owner’s point of view, bearing the cost of training for crew who, firstly, may leave their employ at relatively short notice taking the skill set that the owner has invested in with them and secondly, who can afford, due to the generous wage standard in the industry, to undertake and fund the training themselves, may be considered an unwise investment,” he adds.
- Captain Carlo Summonti, M/Y Nataly
However, there are many examples of owners investing in their crew and reaping enormous benefits, as proved by Captain Carlo Summonti of M/Y Nataly. “I am lucky since my boat, thanks to the owner, has a permanent crew of eleven,” he explains. “Since the boat’s delivery in Spring 2011 not one of the permanent crew has changed and four of them have been with the owner and I since the previous boat, five years ago. This means that the money that has been invested in crew training has not been wasted.”
Not all captains feel like this, however. For Captain Antonio Gerini of M/Y Monaliza, “often owners are averse to paying for training courses or spending extra money, especially on crewmembers.”
But let’s remember, training is expensive, and with so many courses available crewmembers can be known to ask for an awful lot. “There are those who feel they are entitled to education and certification, plus attaining this all while on the dollar of the owner; or rather, paid leave. Well, it’s the owner’s dollar; let’s ask the owner if they want to spend it on you,” explains Captain Herbert Magney of M/Y At Last. “In reality, the one who pays will be whoever will benefit from the training the most. If the owner is of the perception they will benefit from the crew undertaking additional educative adventures, they will pay.”
It’s a debate that could, and is likely to, go on and on and arguably round in circles. There is no right or wrong answer to whether an owner should be paying for a crewmember’s training, however the benefits of doing so are, perhaps, more obvious. “For the owner,” concludes Gough, “funding training for long-servicing crew could be an excellent way of retaining their services. However, for the owner to pay substantial amounts to train ‘transient’ crew would undoubtedly result in the loss of their investment when the crewmember inevitably leaves”