The superyacht industry has bemoaned its engineer shortage for some time now, with little being done to solve the problem. In issue 73, we asked today’s engineers and Electro-Technical Officers (ETOs) how the industry should go about recruiting new blood. Here, we bring you a preview…

George Gill, chief engineer, new build

I have been thinking long and hard about how we could recruit people to our industry and one way I can see it happening is for recruitment companies and crewing agents to band together, possibly under The Superyacht Group’s guidance, and attend some of the more down-to-earth boat shows such as London and Southampton. Appeal to the apprentice engineers walking around, the kids there with their parents, the keen weekend sailors looking for a career change. And distribute flyers with information about tech colleges offering the NVQ Marine Engineering courses – not to recruit people as such but to point them in a direction that they may not have thought of. If they decide there and then to sign up to it, well, so much the better.

Simon Hodkinson, ETO, 90m-plus motoryacht

One way to attract the right candidates is through cadetships or apprenticeships to junior engineers/ETOs on the larger yachts, but this is sometimes unpopular due to the lack of available cabins and the limited time available for training due to charters and warranty/refit work. However, this would be a great way to bring ETOs with the right training, experience, safety awareness and work ethic into the industry.

More people may be inclined to work within yachting if the yacht tickets received greater recognition outside of yachting.

Second engineer, 50m sailing yacht

Engineering on yachts at the moment is seen as something of a poorer version of commercial marine engineering, with yacht-specific qualifications that do not carry much weight outside of the superyacht industry. Our tickets aren’t deemed to have any commercial suitability, yet this is at odds with the syllabus that draws very heavily from practices, procedures and systems from the commercial world. (Frustratingly, an engineer coming from a commercial background will have his or her tickets fully endorsed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency [MCA] to work on yachts, even though the technology and systems they have been trained in and have experience with are different in size, design and performance.)

More people may be inclined to work within yachting if the yacht tickets received greater recognition outside of yachting, so that at the end of a career within the industry one could more easily make the transition into other shore-based engineering or consultancy-type roles, even potentially being able to work on big commercial ships. I think the MCA, or perhaps even the International Maritime Organization (IMO), needs to address this imbalance and acknowledge the complexities of the work superyacht engineers actually do, and give us more credit for it. If they feel we do not reach the same standards as the commercial marine engineers, then surely it is their job as our governing body to raise the bar of our ‘yacht’ licences to bring us closer in line with the requisite standard.

Find the full article with additional and extended comments in issue 73 of The Crew Report – download here.