The superyacht industry isn’t always known for welcoming new members with open arms and the crew sector in particular can seem surrounded by a brick wall as it grows increasingly competitive with the influx of new entrants. John Jarvie, president of Young Professionals in Yachting (YPY), agrees that upon his initiation into the industry he was met with equal obstacles. “When I first moved to Fort Lauderdale I quickly learned that the industry is not always very welcoming for new people or young people. If everywhere you turn everybody tells you they don’t want to be your friend, they don’t want to be your colleague, it’s discouraging,” Jarvie explains. This is not a positive perception of our industry and we should be concerned that such unnecessary barriers are being created for crew who could, in not too long, be on board and helping promote the industry to charter guests and potential owners. Instead, avenues need to be made available and doors need to be opened.
Youth charity and maritime training provider UKSA has a, by now, well-known and unique cadetship programme that it believes fully prepares crew for this niche industry – a different training and recruitment landscape to that with which we as an industry are largely familiar. “Our thinking is that, regardless of whether you want to train to be a captain or be a very good deckhand for a number of years, we try to provide a really solid route of training with some integrity to it. We’re not just saying, ‘You’re paying for the training, so go and do it’, regardless of whether they’re really suitable. For us, the main thing is to find the right people for the industry,” explains Emma Baggett, industry and cadetship manager at UKSA.
"It’s dead easy to train people, but it’s not so easy to make sure that when they land in the superyacht industry they are actually truly prepared."
“One of my criticisms when I first came [to UKSA] was, it’s dead easy to train people, but it’s not so easy to make sure that when they land in the superyacht industry they are actually truly prepared,” Baggett continues. “With the cadetship, a captain is still going to get a green deckhand, but he’s got someone who really knows what it is that he’s getting into. Nothing’s a shock; he knows how to behave, how to speak and what to expect in terms of work. And you can’t just write to us and say, ‘I want to do it’; you have to go through an interview process which is very much based on the candidate’s suitability to the industry; really bright, motivated people who, regardless of whether they have had years on the water or done very little but you can see it written all over them, have that drive and enthusiasm. You’re providing people who have a real commitment to the industry.”
For Captain Glen Allen, fleet captain of Fleet Miami, the onus lies with the green crew themselves. He advises they take it upon themselves to attend maritime colleges to ensure this basic skill set is met. “I recommend they take a hard look at attending a maritime college. The basic seaman skills can be acquired and will help shorten the process of becoming a licensed officer with the needed skills,” suggests Captain Allen. “Service schools need to continue to expand their curriculum to include the needed social skills and I personally would like to see a programme for high school or college students that could introduce them to the yacht life and the wonderful opportunities available to them,” he adds.
Find the full article in issue 68 of The Crew Report – click here to download.