“The primary motivation was to establish a programme that would be of benefit to the development of young people either currently working, or who are considering a future career, in the superyacht industry,” John Croft, director at Sovren House Group, tells The Crew Report.
“The long-term objective is to create a sustainable career pathway, relevant to the needs of the industry while being recognised by the wider hospitality industry, with qualifications approved and accredited by leading professional and educational institutions,” he adds. “The hospitality industry in general has very few specific qualifications for front-of-house food and beverage service,” reveals Croft. “My starting point was to find qualifications that have a relevance in the hospitality industry in general, but could also be very much attuned to the quality and standards the superyacht industry is looking to achieve.”
The course has been developed by the University of West London, in conjunction with the Savoy Butler School and the Royal Household and has been actively supported by City and Guilds.
On offer are two entry-level programmes, both delivered at the Sovren House Hospitality Academy in Barcelona: Level one – a five-day hospitality course equivalent to the PYA’s level two GUEST certificates; and Level two – a 10-day Professional Butler Service course.
"By linking these qualifications to the wider hospitality industry it ensures people have ongoing career prospects when they leave the yachting industry."
Also on offer are the Level three diploma and Level four foundation degree. The level three programme is a two-week course, followed by on-board tasks and projects which will be electronically submitted to the Academy while on board, with a final three days at the Academy for assessment and examination. The foundation degree level four course, which holds the Level three course as a prerequisite, is an online-only course and lasts between 12 and 18 months. All courses include specific maritime-based modules and have been designed so they can be delivered on board, depending upon numbers and locations.
Croft believes this course offers the solution to a problem so frequently bemoaned by the interior crew of this industry. “By linking these qualifications to the wider hospitality industry it ensures people have ongoing career prospects when they leave the yachting industry for those who wish to continue in the hospitality industry,” explains Croft.
Not only this, but Sovren House Academy is offering a solution to the recurring problem of funding when it comes to training. “With most training programmes, whether you’re in the yachting industry or not, there is always the question of funding. In order to alleviate this issue, we’ve created The Hospitality Bond, which will entitle those taking the level two, three or four course to take advantage of a bespoke payment plan that will offer candidates the chance to pay in installments, rather than a one-off lump sum.
“The message we want to get across to people is that we are very flexible in terms of how we are going to do this,” explains Croft, who adds that the Academy will also consider including the cost of the STCW in any financial arrangaement. “I’m more than happy to sit down and discuss payment terms with students and we will act in an advisory capacity where required.”
Following the training, the student will be passed on to Dovaston Crew, which will exclusively manage the students’ placements until the bond is cleared.
“Ultimately,” concludes Croft, “we are hoping to provide owners and captains with the opportunity to up-skill and train their existing staff, and employ new staff trained to the high standards currently enjoyed by the wider hospitality industry.”