At this year’s American Superyacht Forum, discussion turned to crew quality, with a consensus by many that today’s training schools were merely ‘paper merchants’. Our coverage of the event quickly sparked serious and extensive debate from the training providers. Many claimed fingers of blame were pointing towards the wrong people and there was a much bigger picture the industry was missing. So, for issue 65 of The Crew Report we contacted key players in the training and crew sectors to join the debate, and here is a sneak peek of what they had to say.

Amy Beavers, managing director, Maritime Professional Training (MPT)
The schools cannot be held exclusively accountable when, if truthful, we are not being contracted to train these mariners in how to be a mate or master; we are being contracted for regulatory courses that even in their entirety do not come close to covering the job of serving on a yacht in an operational or management level position.

Captain Glen McDonnell, Vava
From a deck and engineering perspective I think service time should be extended before the crew can sit exams to extend their qualifications. I see so many crew focused on ticking off sea time just to jump to the next level without really identifying what it is they gain out of sea time and experience.

Captain Len Beck, Battered Bull

We expect all crew to arrive on the job with the basics. When they don’t arrive with the basics, it puts a strain on the department and in some instances the whole team. Essentially, poorly trained personnel weaken the entire on-board team.
Crew candidates have to show up with a genuine desire to work hard, act like adults and contribute to the team effort. If Mum and Dad did not instil basic manners at a young age, then it becomes very hard for the captain or vessel leadership structure to do this.

Chief Engineer Dean Vaughan, Limitless
People are only as good as you make them. Senior crew must be good mentors, educators and trainers. The shame of it all is far too few senior crew know how to train people or even care to do so. The trainer must play a role and accept his or her share of responsibility when it comes to workplace training.

Captain Mike French
One of the key [factors] is whether or not the regulatory authority is a profit-seeking business or a public-sector entity serving the national interest. Take the USCG and the MCA, for example; these are not-for-profit organisations which are mandated by their peers and empowered in law to serve the national interest. Compare these institutions with commercial enterprises that issue licences for profit and you can see how different standards apply. This should be a matter of concern to an industry focused on safety.

Joey Meen, chairman, PYA’s Continuous Professional Development work group
Training needs should be bespoke to the job in hand and developed in consultation with the very people who are out there doing it. However, the problem we struggle with is how to get feedback and agreement from the yachting industry about exactly what training crew need.

Charlotte Roch, marketing director, and Natasha Rajalingam, marketing and business development manager, The Crew Academy
The varying training providers need only use this benchmark as a minimum guideline. From our point of view, we only welcome more regulation to interior service training as it increases the quality of the training offered and forces out a number of players who have for years been taking money for courses that are neither accredited, practical, nor yacht-relevant.

Chief Stewardess Theresa Manwaring, Lady Linda
I have had a unique experience recently, working on our owners’ other boat for three weeks to help train the interior staff – including the second stew just promoted to chief stew. The owners and captain wanted to ensure the newly promoted chief stew was trained properly. I’ve met newly promoted chief stews who have never conducted an interview and no one has given them guidelines on how. Now they are interviewing for junior stews and we wonder how poor quality crew get jobs.

Emma Baggett, industry and cadetship manager, UKSA
Training needs to be realistic with a strong emphasis on developing basic seamanship skills. All too often new yacht crew have very little knowledge of even the most basic maritime skills. As any captain will testify, a crewmember that is able to splice, varnish or paint is invaluable aboard a superyacht.

Find the full debate in issue 65 of The Crew Report.