Sensibly, focus has remained on the resultant captains that have been almost churned out as a result of this speedy process, with many bemoaning their lack of at-sea experience. Yet this certificate-hungry culture is seeing effects elsewhere. Brian Luke, newly appointed chief operations officer at International Crew Training, has seen a growing trend of entry-level crew being indirectly pressured to gain higher-level tickets, such as the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yachtmaster Offshore, as a bare minimum to get on board.
“Part of the problem with this clumbling the ladder so rapidly scvenario is that as you go through this process you are now seeing your basic deckhand-level individual feeling as if he must have a Yachtmaster rating to be competitive out there – and just to be a deckhand,” explains Luke. “Ten or fifteen years ago people had the sense that if you were getting your Yachtmater rating it was because you had already spent enough time as a deckhand and a bosun and then you were ready to take on a bigger role as a first mate or a chief mate on a boat, so you started by getting your Yachtmaster rating. Maybe you went out anad got some experience as a captain on a smaller vessel after that Yachtmaster rating, in the one-hundred-foot range, and then you started working on your other ratings so you could move up the ladder. But today what we’re seeing is deckhands with the minimum amount of experience coming through our courses and getting this rating, and then being deckhands for a short amount of time. All they’ve really done, pardon the slang, is been shammy experience for the last year and a half, and now they’re in here trying to get a Yachtmaster rating. And quite honestly, I would have to tell you that a majority, not a minority, that come through for that Yachtmaster rating struggle - which is completely different to ten years ago.”
"They come through here and they struggle, getting various ratings every year. They are all pushing for it. I see a lot of people come through who have no business being a captain."
Rather than jumping to criticise this trend, which on the surface clearly appears an unhealthy and inefficient approach to supplying the industry with sufficiently qualified, experienced and professional crew, with the right approach to pass and fail standards, there is a chance this trend could be beneficial to the industry. “It is getting more competitive so in order for you to be a competitive individual, as just a simple deckhand, you have to go out and get that Yachtmaster rating. It is what it is, but the truth is, it may actually weed out the week ones,” suggests Luke. The industry will only benefit from this result, however, if we can ensure those with insufficient knowledge do not receive the rating they’re rushing to get, and unfortunately this is not something we’re seeing as of yet, adds Luke. “They come through here and they struggle, getting various ratings every year. They are all pushing for it. I see a lot of people come through who have no business being a captain.”
A full interview with Brian Luke, on training standards and 2014’s focus on leadership training, will appear in issue 68 of The Crew Report – out April, 2014.