The answer is, of course, yes. cadetships for the superyacht industry is something we have been demanding and bemoaning the lack of for years, and finally, more and more are popping up on the scene (take a look at two of them here). Talk to training providers and they’ll emphasise how valuable this combination of career-focused training and on-board experience really is, and how it provides a pool of candidates really and prepared for the challenges of working on board a superyacht.
Ask a recruitment agent, however, and the answer might be slightly different. I’m not suggesting recruitment agents don’t value cadetships or well-trained crew - of course they do - and having crew who genuinely understand the intricacies of working on board is a huge help. It means no calls from the captain a month later saying this stew or that deckhand just wasn’t cut out of this type of work, and subsequently fewer last-minute placement hunts before the next charter in 24 hours’ time.
But midway through a Twitter conversation I was having with superyacht captain, Liam Dobbin, managing director of wilsonhalligan Yacht Recruitment, had something to say: we’re calling for more cadetships, which bring in more crew, he said, but admitted he knows of 25 newly qualified OOWs (Officer of the Watch) looking for work, some of whom have been on the job hunt for months.
We are, therefore, in a bit of a predicament. We’re calling for more cadetships; more professional, planned and thought-out routes into this industry. But we’re also faced with a supply-and-demand issue, whereby we have too many crew for the positions available.
My head does question whether we could actually be doing ourselves as an industry and, more importantly, the crew a disservice, by encouraging more to come into the industry only to find that as they progress there might, in fact, not even be a job available for them.
Which gets me wondering, is now the right time to be pushing for more cadetships? My gut reaction is ‘yes yes yes!’ - as a huge advocate of encouraging professional crew over ‘summer job’ crew, we absolutely must not only make available, but encourage, cadetships. But my head does question whether we could actually be doing ourselves as an industry and, more importantly, the crew a disservice, by encouraging more to come into the industry only to find that as they progress there might, in fact, not even be a job available for them.
Yet even with the current issues surrounding the supply and demand of superyacht crew, I can't find it in myself to suggest we don't encourage cadetships - they are, in my opinion, of huge value and should not be underestimated.
Perhaps our efforts should be dually focused, not only on encouraging cadetships but also on tackling the supply-and-demand issue. The latter is, of course, a wide-reaching problem and one with no easy solution. But we have to start somewhere, and maybe, just maybe, this is the place.