“What training do I need?” is the question we hear most often from new interior trainees. The answer is rarely a simple one. Welcome to the yachting industry, where trying to navigate the maze of courses and the regulatory structure can be daunting for the neophyte.
It is critical to understand what you are trying to accomplish during your training. First and foremost is safety: you need to understand how to work and live safely in your new environment. Second, you have to build a solid foundation for your future training: no training course can be designed to teach you everything – each is a building block to the next, and it is up to you to build on this foundation. Finally, from a practical standpoint, you require the appropriate certificates to work on most yachts. You need to be safe, and you want to be highly employable.
Part of the secret of your success is to have qualifications that allow you to work on as many yachts as possible. The more qualifications you have, the higher the likelihood that you will be hired. If you limit your qualifications, you will inadvertently limit the number of yachts available to you for work. For example, many yachts now require all stews to have some level of silver-service training, and sometimes even a Powerboat Level 2 certificate. If you don’t have one, or both, without knowing you may have eliminated yourself from the possibility of being hired on that particular yacht.
Where do you start? Your training centre should help you to get the right training and give you appropriate career advice for you to be safe and marketable. Step one is to complete your STCW basic training (compulsory for any crew working on a commercial yacht). This includes PSSR (Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities), BST (Basic Survival Training), Basic Fire Fighting and First Aid/CPR. You should also take a security course straightaway. Many in our industry are pushing Security Awareness Training; in my opinion, and in the opinion of many captains who are looking to hire you, this is the wrong qualification for most crew. We work on yachts and, generally speaking, most will have a ‘designated security duty’ according to the vessel’s security plan. Forget Security Awareness, and take the yachting-appropriate Security Awareness with Designated Duties course. Security Awareness is less expensive and less time-consuming, but in the long run you will have to go back to take Security Awareness with Designated Duties, unnecessarily spending more money and time.
Statistics show that as a newbie with little to no experience, you will increase your odds of getting picked up by a yacht when you have invested in yourself.
Next, get your silver-service training. There is a wonderful programme called GUEST (Guidelines for Unified Excellence in Service Training), geared towards professional-level, seven-star service. As the front line for owners and guests, it is fundamental that interior crew have the level of in-depth knowledge, skill and confidence that is sufficient to offer the high-end service and hospitality required on board. As with the deck and engineering departments, interior crew can now benefit from a clearly defined training route, leading to an industry-recognised Certificate of Competence (CoC). In effect, GUEST mimics the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA’s) CoC system, providing superyacht interior crew with a professional ladder from which to climb.
Finally, I recommend Powerboat Level 2 (PB 2) and the ENG1 medical certificate. Yes, I am aware that these are not regulatory requirements, but remember that our goal is to increase your odds of getting hired. Today’s superyacht crew need to be much more versatile than in the past, and it is now common for a stew to drive the tender. Statistics show that as a newbie with little to no experience, you will increase your odds of getting picked up by a yacht when you have invested in yourself. If you had an open position and two otherwise equally personable stewardesses, one with PB 2 and ENG1 and the other without, which one would you choose?
Some of you may say I am being self-serving, and that you don’t need any of these courses to get hired. I know a few crew who didn’t have their STCW when they were hired, but they are the exception. I also know hundreds who took four or five entry-level courses at the outset and were hired very quickly. Instead of spending three to five months looking for a position, by setting themselves apart with the extra qualifications and willingness to invest in themselves and their careers, they went to work relatively quickly and earned good salaries for those three to five months – more than offsetting the additional time and expense of that extra training. They increased their odds of getting hired early on and it paid off well.
If you are serious about an interior position on a yacht, or even a lifetime of opportunity in the yachting industry, no matter how much or little experience you have, it’s always important to build your CV. Most are willing to do only the minimum, so why not set yourself apart?
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