- Operations - Bridging the age gap

By Conor Feasey

Bridging the age gap

As the industry grapples with a talent crisis exacerbated by an age gap, World Boating Day aims to showcase industry intricacies and attract new talent…

It is no secret that the superyacht industry is struggling in both acquiring and retaining skilled talent. This is exacerbated by the age gap between retiring executives and incoming young professionals, resulting in a misalignment in talent availability within the industry. For many, the lack of visibility of career prospects within the sector to the wider world is a prime contributor to the situation. That, and the lack of accessible points of entry to the industry for younger, inexperienced demographics.

To combat this, The Superyacht Life Foundation is introducing the inaugural World Boating Day on May 25-26, 2024, an innovative effort designed to unveil the everyday workings of the industry to a broader audience. Speaking with Laurie Foulon, event consultant and project consultant at the Foundation, she explains how the goal is to foster a deeper appreciation and understanding of the yachting industry on a global scale, in the face of rising concerns for the future of the sector.

“The inspiration came from a true intention to lift the veil, inviting all organisations in leisure boating to show what is going on behind the scenes: how craftsmen are working passionately on the yachts and boats or dedicate themselves to refining appliances on board,” says Foulon. “The mission of World Boating Day is to change perceptions, shatter stereotypes, and showcase the positive impact of leisure boating through a myriad of 'glocal' events, all hosted during one weekend.”

The superyacht industry must enhance its visibility among the younger generation, whether through educational initiatives, integration efforts, or strategic marketing. From an outsider's perspective, there's often limited awareness about the industry. Many individuals who possess the potential to excel within the industry opt for more visible career paths instead as a result.

World Boating Day is all about showing students the exciting career options available in the marine sector. It aims to attract future boat builders, equipment manufacturers, marketing and sales pros by spotlighting innovations like zero-emission boating. Plus, it demonstrates how this industry not only offers jobs but also boosts the economy.

From a media perspective, World Boating Day provides a chance to uncover the lesser-known aspects of the superyacht industry for the first time. Behind the glamour lies a world of skilled professionals, thriving communities and economic contributions. “This event offers a story worth sharing,” adds Foulon. “We aim to gather the whole leisure boating sector in this day of putting the spotlight on boating. It is a simple concept. No organisation needs to do anything that they were not already doing.”

Reaching a younger generation through traditional media has its difficulties. The youth of today consume media on their phones, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, so these are the platforms the industry should be looking to use to reach them. So, with this, Foulon explains that the campaign was also made to create media value. “This is so we can actually reach a lot of people through both social media and mainstream media, to show the pleasures and positive aspects of leisure boating,” she adds.

Foulon urges industry associations to engage their audiences and utilise resources provided by the Foundation, such as newsletter templates, digital campaigns, and event inspiration sheets.

Participating companies, including shipyards, design studios, sailing schools, marinas, retail businesses, and offices, can host or register events under the World Boating Day banner, without specific criteria or deadlines. Events can be tailored to target audiences, ranging from public openings to university collaborations or exclusive gatherings. The current lineup of events comprises shipyard open tours, Q&A sessions, virtual showroom tours led by chief interior designers, university student open days (including career fairs), marina-based crew gatherings, private media days, as well as webinars introducing the latest innovations and technology.

“We have an array of fantastic ideas, developed by our team in the form of Event Inspiration Sheets for every sector of the industry,” says Foulon. “Some events are still in the process of being created specifically for this occasion, whilst others like regattas or boat shows falling on the exact same weekend will be simply listed to the event platform and added on the map.”

There are very few entry points to the industry that are genuinely accessible for young people and the outside world to get into yachting. The superyacht industry needs to become more visible to the younger generation, whether through education, or the likes of initiatives like World Boating Day to reach the next generation.

“This is a campaign for the industry, but also for the public. World Boating Day aims to reach the status and prestige of World Oceans Day for example. All these celebrations anchored into people’s minds that are recurring every calendar year, no matter the size of one’s boat or flotation device, from dinghies to superyachts,” adds Foulon. “It is a day of celebrating on, in and out of the water, uniting people around the true sense of well-being that being around water brings. But it is also fostering a sense of belonging to the environment.”

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The Superyacht Life Foundation

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