Announced during the PYA Sea Changes seminar at the Antibes Yacht Show, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has begun a series of meetings in order to plan a restructuring of engineering training and certification across the marine industry. On 2 May 2014, the MCA met with representatives of the fishing, tug, workboat and yachting industries for the first of these discussions in which John Wyborn, training director at Bluewater, attended as representative of the Professional Yachting Association.

“The aim is to create an engineering structure that will work across the whole small boat industry (under 3,000gt) and that will allow engineers to continue onto unlimited certification if they wish,” explains Wyborn. “That is what is in the pipeline - exactly how it is going to happen is yet to be confirmed but I know that the MCA are fairly motivated to make it happen. There is another meeting coming up in the next couple of weeks where they are going to discuss it a bit more and try and look into ways of achieving it. The aim is to have some sort of direction by the Monaco Yacht Show, where it will be discussed at the PYA Engineering seminar.”

Captain Roger Towner, chief examiner at the MCA, had presented his dedication to the cause during the seminar in Antibes. “Engineering is a bone of contention in the yachting industry, so we have been thinking that the current system should be restructured,” he said. “Why should we have a separate engineering certificate for a yacht, a tanker and a fishing vessel when there are many similarities across the board? We are going to try to find some way of getting these qualifications for fairly low level engineers into a scheme that will work across the different sectors of the maritime world.”

While the idea is still in its initial stages, the meeting in early May looked at the various possibilities for the future of training and certification for engineers. “The essence is going to be that they are going to look at reducing the amount of seatime that engineers have to do,” Wyborn explains. “Currently engineers need 42 months yacht service – they are looking at reducing that, but increasing the amount of college time. So there might be more courses, some element of distance learning and there is almost certainly going to be a training record for engineers.”

"Yachting is now a fully-fledged sector of the marine industry so we need to start acting like one and we need to improve what we are doing on board.”

“There can’t be too much more time in the classroom because that would make it too difficult for them to do it,” Wyborn adds when asked how this will work in the yachting industry. “But what we are doing at the moment is just exam cramming - there is no education going on and unfortunately the exams without the education is the wrong way round. Yachting is now a fully-fledged sector of the marine industry so we need to start acting like one and we need to improve what we are doing on board.”

Wyborn stood up during the seminar in Antibes to say that he would welcome any input and would be happy to represent them on behalf of the PYA. Asking him about the responses, however, he said that he did not receive any feedback whatsoever. “Something is going to happen and, at this stage, the engineers that are interested have a chance to influence it,” concludes Wyborn, who wishes to encourage any engineers that do want to have input to speak up soon, and to do so via the PYA. “We really have the opportunity to influence things at the moment.”

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