At the end of May, Peter Insull released a personal announcement stating that he would be temporarily suspending the operations of the Peter Insull’s crew placement division in order to reflect on how the company should continue to move forward with this part of the business. He explained that the reason behind the decision came down to the team’s current observations of the recruitment sector.
“For forty years, both my company and I have been deeply involved in the yacht crew placement sector and many people recognise that I was responsible for the first formal ‘crew agency’,” the announcement reads. “There have been changes in how yacht crew are employed, and the bureaucracy only appears to get more complicated. Social media network sites continue to make it easier for rogue crew agents to operate outside of the regulations that we respect and abide to.”
The announcement concludes that, with these points taken into account, Insull and his crew placement team have decided to suspend recruitment operations while they take some time to review how best the company can continue to serve the yachting sector. During this period, however, the Peter Insull’s crew website will remain active and candidates are encouraged to keep their files up to date.
In a discussion with SuperyachtNews about the situation, Insull admits that he has grown frustrated with the state of the recruitment sector in recent years. “Being the first crew placement agency in the superyacht industry, it used to be that most crewmembers would know of Peter Insull’s and be registered with us,” he explains. “But what I started finding when I went on board yachts and spoke to the crew was that none of them knew who they were registered with because they might be registered with 30-plus companies, and a lot of these would be virtual companies.”
A proliferation of social media and online-based recruitment agencies – perhaps more aptly described as ‘jobs boards’ with no real recruitment process behind them – has changed superyacht recruitment dramatically in recent years. Crew are losing trust in the sector due to the perception that these platforms are simply mining for crew data and, in some cases, professional recruitment agencies have been tarnished with the same brush.
“They are operating in a fashion that has nowhere near the same overheads as us, so commercially we are not on the same basis,” Insull adds. Due to the lower administration costs, some captains and managers are finding these websites more economical, but many of the sites that have emerged lack credibility and professionalism.
“Crew agencies were initially created to fill a void that was there, and we always knew that we were going to be up against other competition,” continues Insull. “But it is the type of competition that makes me frustrated. We are uncomfortable with how the sector is at the moment, and the conduct of some of our competitors, so we are going to review everything before we get operations going properly again.”
But it is not just rogue agents that are causing an issue, as Insull has also noted a change in the hiring and job-hunting habits of captains and crew. “The way that captains and crew conduct themselves is too relaxed and casual,” he explains. “Recruitment agencies used to have long-lasting relationships with captains that would trust only one agency to find only one perfect candidate. A lot of that has departed in today’s industry as captains send out their requests to a number of different agencies and crew sign up to as many as they can, which means getting candidates to update their CVs is near impossible. It used to be such a gratifying job, but now it feels more like a paper chase.”
While Insull does not yet know what the next step will be, he is certain that it will be different to what it has been. One focus for the relaunch will be to specialise in providing a Human Resources (HR) service, which Insull feels is often misinterpreted in the yachting world. “It still remains a fantastic industry, but some people are in it for the wrong reasons,” he concludes. “We are very excited to see how we can make this opportunity for change work for us, and for the industry.”