In 2017, Döhle Yachts became the first yacht management company to support cadets enrolled in Warsash Maritime School’s officer cadet training programme by fully sponsoring the placement of two cadets. The programme is aimed at those who may have little or no previous experience of working at sea, but wish to become officers on board superyachts or within the wider maritime industry, and offers support, structure and opportunities for young people at the beginning of their careers. 

Committed to sponsoring two cadet placements on each programme, Döhle Yachts has recently sponsored two cadets for the 2020 intake and will start accepting applications for future intakes in the new year. The three-year deck officer cadetship at Warsash leads to the issue of a UK MCA Officer of the Watch (Unlimited) Certificate of Competency (CoC), with routes for aspiring engineers and ETOs also available through the engineer officer cadetship and ETO officer cadetship.

One of Döhle Yachts' first cadets, Max Taylor-Nobbs, has now completed the cadetship and intends to pursue a career in the superyacht industry, securing a deckhand position on a 130m-plus motoryacht. In a webcast episode, Taylor-Nobbs spoke to Ben Geary, fleet statutory manager at Döhle Yachts, about his cadetship experience. “The three-year cadetship course is split into five phases, within which you spend a total of 12 months at sea and alternate between phases at sea and phases at Warsash,” he explains. “What I loved about that is that you are always applying the new things you are learning on shore, and then being able to bring things you have learnt from the sea time.”

Throughout the course, cadets spend their time at sea on a variety of vessels, including superyachts, cruise ships, research vessels and container ships. Richie Blake, managing director of Döhle Yachts, explains that they look to the yachts they have relationships with in order to secure these placements. “It’s not easy, as yachts don’t have excess crew accommodation, but a number of yachts have kindly hosted our cadets during crossings or quiet periods,” he says. “The enthusiasm we have seen so far from the captains and chief officers has been really humbling – they recognise the need for the programme and have really put in an effort to help the cadets learn while they’re on board.” 

“There is no financial return, but that’s not what it’s about; it’s about supporting the industry and helping young people get a good start in their career.”

In addition, Döhle Yachts and Warsash host an annual seminar for all the cadets on the programme to discuss the superyacht industry, with industry captains and representatives from flag states and classification societies also present. “The networking opportunities that provided us with was great,” reflected Taylor-Nobbs. “Meeting current and former captains, and people from all sides of the industry, really helped me with getting advice for the future.”

Döhle Yachts started supporting the cadet programme in response to a lack of opportunity for young people to join the superyacht industry and progress their careers. The superyacht industry often bemoans the lack of a structured career path to ensure quality crew for the future, but Döhle Yachts is unique in the fact that it is being proactive to change this. “It’s no good complaining about it,” asserts Blake. “The only way it is going to change is if someone in our position stands up and does something about it, and that is why we wanted to get involved with the programme. There is no financial return, but that’s not what it’s about; it’s about supporting the industry and helping young people get a good start in their career.” 

The Unlimited certification route was of particular importance to Döhle Yachts. “Whilst things have improved and continue to, the yachting industry has a background of failing to promote a good work-life balance,” Blake comments. “If, for example, a cadet comes through the programme and into a career in yachting, then starts a family and decides to work on ferries for a while before returning to yachting, this CoC gives them the flexibility and the opportunity to go in whichever direction they like.” 

And once the cadets have finished the programme, Döhle Yachts can help them secure their first position on a yacht. “Even though they come out with their OOW CoC, they aren’t going to be joining a yacht as a third or second officer,” adds Blake. “We are very careful to manage their expectations in this respect and they are aware that they will have to get experience as a deckhand first. Yachting is a lot more hands-on than other maritime sectors, but with commitment they will be able to work their way up quicker with the licence. It works both ways because the yachts are getting someone who is qualified to hold a watch, has at least a year’s sea time already, understands the benefits and limitations of the role, and is very enthusiastic about the industry.”

Döhle Yachts will soon be welcoming applications for the next intake from which interviews will be held and the candidates chosen for full sponsorship. The fully-funded sponsorship is open to male and female candidates for either the deck, engineering or ETO cadet programmes and offers a great opportunity for aspiring yacht officers to progress their career without amassing student debt. More information about the programme can be found by clicking here.


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