Issue 69 of The Crew Report included an article entitled ‘Bang for your buck’, an experienced first officer’s analysis of the cost and value of gaining a Certificate of Competency (CoC) in the superyacht industry, that looks closely at the prices offered by six of the industry’s training schools. The article, which can be downloaded here, has generated remonstrance with some of the training providers mentioned. As a publication that values and takes seriously all feedback, we are putting to you, our audience, the comments we have received, the corresponding response from the article’s author and our own opinion, and invite you to share your thoughts.

John Wyborn, training director, Bluewater Yachting

“The implied subtext in the piece … suggests that we at Bluewater are ripping people off; it is not stated but it screams out from the page. Even worse than this, however, is the further unstated implication that all of us training providers are doing nothing but peddling pieces of paper so that yacht crew can get their tickets. Your article mentions several times ‘value for money’. What does this mean to you? To me it is all about the quality of the training that is delivered, the quality of the instructors, the extent to which the candidates actually learn.

“My instructors are amongst the best in the world for yacht crew training. I pay many of them all year round so that we can offer courses for a much longer period than many schools – we don’t stop until the end of July; we start with eight courses in the first week of September. To maintain this level of service costs a lot of money. We have invested lots of time and passion in developing a reputable brand and I am not prepared to allow you to flush it down the pan.”

Response to the above by the article’s author, first officer Paul Duncan

“The intention of this piece was not to rundown any particular school, but to simply answer the primary question of what does a yacht CoC currently cost, and consider how this compares to the many other options that beckon crew. To be able to provide an accurate picture it was necessary to evaluate the major schools separately and arrive at an average figure between them. With the variety between the schools being substantial, and of importance to crew spread out globally and considering their options accordingly, it seemed important to display the raw data that went into arriving at this figure as a table.

“Clearly with six schools involved there was limited space for an institution-by-institution breakdown on what I’m sure you’ll agree is a rather nebulous subject – that of value for money. In choosing to focus on the bottom line and then comparing that against other options, I gave crew the credit to be aware of and able to investigate where their money would be spent. I don’t believe that in stating the prices of courses offered at the schools I have done anyone a disservice, or service for that matter, but have simply stated facts. If anything, I would hope that through what proved to be a favourable comparison for investing in a yacht CoC I have encouraged junior crew to put their money down and get qualified, something that should be of benefit to a school offering more courses across a wider span of the calendar than other institutions.”

Lars Lippuner, business development manager, Warsash Superyacht Academy

“[An extract of the article] indirectly implies that the quality of the tuition is secondary as everyone needs to pass the same exams. Nothing could be further from the truth. Exams are ‘spot-inspections’; the fact that someone passed an exam, does not imply that all the necessary knowledge for a safe and efficient operation of a yacht has been obtained or indeed is even retained later.

“Any price comparison table normally includes a quality rating. The quality of the tuition is the reason why Warsash’s pass rate is by far the highest across the industry. This results in a direct benefit to the student. If someone fails a written or an oral examination, the initial savings may quickly be lost by having to take further time off work and the associated travel, accommodation and re-sit fees. Finally, facilities do indeed matter too; over the last few years we have invested over £5.5 million in our simulation capabilities which are unrivalled in the yachting industry.”

Lulu Trask, managing editor, The Crew Report

I take great pride in The Crew Report as a publication for professional crew and am confident those who pick up issue 69 will read the full article, not just skim the table of figures. In doing so, I believe crew will grasp the intention of this article, that is, to offer crew an honest explanation of the cost and value in getting their CoC. Value, in this case, not only referring to the monetary but to the equipment, facilities and benefits further down the line – all factors the article’s author includes. From the moment we decided to proceed with this article, we were aware that one training provider would prove the most expensive and that this provider was likely to be discontent; however, we did not feel this justified altogether removing an article that is informative and educational for today’s crew and the wider industry, within which so often, from both owners and crew alike, we hear complaints pertaining to the cost of crew training. In fact, the conclusion’s focus on ‘value for money’ which, despite the above comments, I believe supports the training schools in their focus on quality-based value.

With regards to the above-mentioned subtext that implies any of the six training schools are ‘ripping off’ those who attend and that training schools are ‘paper merchants’, I cannot locate either of these suggestions anywhere in the subtext. Perhaps this is an issue at the foreground of the training sector, following industry hearsay or feedback from crewmembers, in which case I would be very happy to investigate this in a future article, but I stand firm that such implications are nowhere to be found in this piece of journalism. I take pride in the editorial integrity of our journalists and remain pleased to have have published a piece that honestly informs crew. However, the feedback and response from our readers is of the utmost importance, so I urge you, whether you’re a training provider, a captain or a deckhand, to read the article, read these comments and share your opinion below.

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