The Indian Ocean Maritime Training Centre, originally established in 2010 as the Indian Ocean Powerboat School as an Overseas Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Powerboat Training Centre in Mombasa, Kenya, is taking steps to introduce the superyacht industry to the possibility of recruiting African crew.

In an exclusive conversation with, the centre’s chief instructor, Dr. Simon Hemphill said both the supply and the capabilities exist to compete with existing sources such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, and increasingly, Eastern Europe.

“Kenya has built up a strong middle income sector. English is the joint national language and many also speak other European languages largely as a result of tourism”, Dr. Hemphill explained. “The tourism industry in Kenya is well developed with specialists in all fields with Kenya also supplying specialists to the rest of East Africa and the UAE.”

What is inhibiting the growth of the superyacht crew sector in Kenya, he said, is a dearth of opportunities to gain the necessary sea time required to gain the requisite qualification. The solution, he believes, is a more collaborative relationship with the industry’s leading recruitment agencies.

“What we need is a link to maritime employment, i.e. one or more recruitment agencies who could then look at a candidate's CV and assess whether they would be worth an interview. If we could tell prospective candidates that if you train with us we can then put forward your profile to the recruitment agency it would be a real draw.”

However, despite a proactive engagement process from Dr. Hemphill and his colleagues, he says they have met with little success, which he attributes to possible preconceptions about the suitability of the African market.  This is not helped by a complete absence of any leisure marine sector in the region, caused in part, by the (now dwindling) Somali piracy threat.

Ironically, it is the decline of Kenya’s domestic luxury tourism sector that has created a pool of workers skilled in the art of hospitality, but lacking employment opportunities. Coupled with, “the enactment of the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009 and the subsequent launch of a STCW '95 syllabus in Kenya, various universities have demonstrated an interest in offering maritime related degree courses… These courses have invoked an increasing interest in maritime careers”, Dr Hemphill added.

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