"Having coffee after one of the discussion sessions at the Global Superyacht Forum in Amsterdam I was already feeling a little grumpy and annoyed following the morning’s session with yacht engine manufacturers. In several debates that day, various speakers made comments about the quality of yacht engineers and the training they receive, or about yacht crew in general. Leif Gross of Caterpillar had said: 'Usually the crew, without blaming anyone, aren’t getting much more educated than they were in the past.' In another session, Erwin Bamps of Gulf Craft declared: 'Sometimes in our industry we oversell some features without considering that the crew may not be up to the mark to keep this working while at sea,' while Will Faimatea of Bond Technical Management pointed to the training schools: 'I think it’s up to training schools to map out a career path.'
Perhaps we as training providers should be doing more – there is probably some truth to that – but we cannot do it alone
I, and many of my colleagues in other schools, have been uncomfortably aware for some time that there is more than a grain of truth in what those speakers were saying. So why did I get annoyed? Because of the assumption, implicit in all of these statements, that the crew are somehow to blame and that it is ‘someone else’s problem’ to fix things. Perhaps we as training providers should be doing more – there is probably some truth to that – but we cannot do it alone.
All of the training that we provide, almost without exception, is generic. We do not know which fire extinguishers, type of radar, brand of gin, propulsion system and number and make of breathing apparatus sets you carry on board or the layout and design of your vessel. On-board continuous training to apply the general principles that crew learn with us is an indispensable part of the learning programme. So maybe the managers, captains and senior crew in our industry can take some of the blame for the problem highlighted in Amsterdam.
So here’s a question: how much do the writers of MCA engineering exams know about the range, type and complexity of equipment found on a modern superyacht? The answer? Very little indeed. The engineering courses, like those for the deck, are adaptations of those used for the general service merchant navy. But they are very generic. The needs of yacht engineers often fall through the gap between standard generic courses and the problems caused by lack of a ‘training culture’ on board.
But there are two things we can do: work with the MCA to adapt the yacht courses more closely to our needs, and establish standards for non-statutory training and for on-board continuation training which we, as an industry, expect. It is up to the major players in our industry to set expectations and standards, and to engage with the crew and training providers. Until they are prepared to do that, they should stop complaining."
The full article with extended comment will feature in Issue 63 of The Crew Report.
The questions raised in Wyborn’s article will lead discussions in Palma at Superyacht Management Meeting: MLC, Careers & Recruitment on 25 April, where industry experts will meet to engage in intelligent debate surrounding the state of today’s crew industry. For more information or to register for the event, please email Suzie at email@example.com, click here to register online or contact the Events team on +44 (0)207 924 4004.
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