In issue 71 of The Crew Report, Captain Rod Hatch, council member of the Professional Yachting Association (PYA), investigates the sea-to-land career transition for captains and looks at whether an owner’s representative course would improve captains’ long-term career prospects in a competitive market. Here, we bring you a preview…

A recent article in The Crew Report indicates that the cost of proceeding from new entrant to Master is well north of 30,000 euros, taking into account the opportunity costs of lost earning time or sacrificed paid leave. Fortunately for owners, many crew think the cost is outweighed by the potential benefit, even if bearing all costs themselves.

Which brings us to the first (inconvenient) truth. At Master level, holders of these expensively obtained CoCs have effectively turned themselves into commodity items. Commodity items are interchangeable. Ergo, if any given captain does not suit, no problem; there are 10 more with the same qualifications, so the commodity captain is easily changeable, even expendable. Although a captain may experience a long-term relationship with a particular owner, a sale and change of owner can put that captain right back on the commodity display shelf again.

CoC-qualified candidates for Master positions may attempt to differentiate themselves by personality or length of experience. But assets which may have differentiated them in their early career, such as previous professional experience as a water-sports instructor, will fade into near-irrelevancy as they progress towards more administrative roles, especially on larger yachts.

Although a captain may experience a long-term relationship with a particular owner, a sale and change of owner can put that captain right back on the commodity display shelf again.

So the question arises, where do you look for something distinguishing that will impact directly on career security (which is different from job security)? Job security has been eroded since the microchip automation of physical tasks, and information technology is now making deep inroads into white-collar employment. A recent edition of Economist magazine predicts that 47 per cent of present jobs face the prospect of being automated out of existence in the next few decades. However, the world economy’s service sector (which includes yachting) is not going to be so easy to automate. So while job security will become more and more a mirage, the yachting industry will still have the potential to offer career security, but only by getting out of the commodity trap.

At this point in the discussion, we have determined that propounding a need for a specific job-focused course is the wrong approach. We need to ask, what are yacht captains good for when they’re not on a yacht? Their way out of the commodity trap lies in Continuous Professional Development (CPD) – taking up further study by returning to full-time shore-based higher education or online courses. Either of these routes can offer a way out of yachting in a seagoing capacity to an entirely different career.

Find the full article in issue 71 of The Crew Reportclick here to download.

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