“Generally speaking, in commercial shipping the cost of crew training and professional development is borne by the ship owner, enabling them to retain their investment in the crew through a fixed term training contract. For example, if the owner were to pay for an officer to advance to the next level of qualification, the crewmember would be contracted to remain in their employ for a set period of time,” outlines Gough.
“There have been calls for the situation in yachting to change and fall in line with the commercial shipping model,” he continues. “While this may seem advantageous in the short term, to crewmembers who no longer have to fund any of their own training, the obligation that is then put on the crewmember to commit to one yacht or owner for an extended period of time can soon outweigh the financial benefits.”
Longevity on board is something we as an industry should be working towards, and Gough is in no way suggesting we move towards a culture whereby we encourage crew to jump ship. However, the industry is calling for today’s crew to have improved tangible and at-sea experience and often the best way for crew to do this is by moving between vessels. If a crewmember is tied into a contract with an owner, whose yacht is sitting in a marina for 11 months of the year, is that crewmember really advancing his or her career?
“Yacht crewmembers who fund their own professional development arguably have an advantage ... in that they have the flexibility that is afforded by not ‘owing’ the owner for their training."
And with the high salary standards ever-present in this industry, whether or not crew think owners should be paying for their training, most crew are in a position to be able to bear the costs of their own training; their own financial position does not hold them back.
“Yacht crewmembers who fund their own professional development arguably have an advantage over their peers who serve in the commercial sector in that they have the flexibility that is afforded by not ‘owing’ the owner for their training,” concludes Gough.
There is no right or wrong answer as to who should bear the costs of training, though more and more owners and boats are funding the training of its crew which can only be viewed as a step forward. However, it is important to remember that one model will not suit every crewmember and, perhaps, there is a space for those crewmembers who want the flexibility provided by funding their own training.
Who do you think should be paying for crew training? Comment below or join our debate here.