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Training: Want it or need it?

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Training is becoming more and more important in the yachting sector. As the MCA and other flags observe the requirements projected in the Manilla amendments to the STCW convention, additional training will be required.  Refresher training, security training, even environmental training are on our horizon.

Training seems to be elevated on the agenda of yacht crew as they progress through their careers. The rate of expansion in the sector has cooled following two years of a relatively stagnant economy; the result is more competition amongst crewmembers for available jobs. Training can help improve one’s chances. These days, it’s the norm for even entry level crew to be asked for evidence of training above and beyond STCW. Silver service and rib training are becoming the entry level standard for many.

Additional training courses are seen, by some, as a sort of an intellectual boob job on an otherwise ordinary CV. It’s simply a question of the market deciding the value of an investment in one’s self.  But, still it’s disappointing to think that the fundamental objective of training for many yachties is solely to advance up the career ladder by collecting certificates and not to learn new skills and gain knowledge. In principle, the two should go hand in hand. After all, a certificate is recognition of achieving some new level of knowledge.

The yachting forums are full of descriptions of training as overpriced and sub-standard. A recent article in the yachting press started with the premise that training is expensive, but never touched on the concept of value, which is surely the issue. (It is undeniably the case that, in terms of outlay versus return, yacht training is a good deal.)

What is important is why training is not unanimously perceived as delivering new and relevant skills and knowledge? There appear to be a couple of reasons for this. First: crew training is often seen as inferior to commercial training. The truth is, yacht crew training is, in fact, completely different to commercial training and takes much less time. A second reason often cited is that yacht crew training is said to lack relevance to the actual operation of yachts. Yachts are mission specific and service is their mission but, safety is common to all maritime operations. Safe operation is the underlying principle of yacht training. If the training is borrowed from the commercial sector, its foundation is relevant.

You are probably wondering just what difference it makes whether people need training rather than wanting it. I am told by everybody that there is a need for more training. From tying knots, correcting charts and varnishing, to re-painting blisters and maintaining teak, there are many skills, I am told, are not being passed down in the way they once were. That is all well and good, except for the fact that the same people who tell me that more training is required hasten to add that unless the MCA requires it no crew will actually get the training.

This of course is not strictly true. Interior courses are not obligatory and, although some are set up and run without any interest in maintaining a set standard, they are clearly considered useful by yachties. So too is oral-prep training, not mandated, but recognized as a useful course. 

The point is: if yachties will only do what the MCA mandates, the industry will not seek to introduce new and innovative courses that will make use of new and innovative learning media, such as online training.


We must address these questions: Is there a skills gap developing or not and if so how will the skill be taught?  And if there is a skills gap developing and little time for training on board, where will the additional training come from?

Ocean have made a great step forward to using the Internet OOW modules to come this year.

As for time to train Well this is where contracts need to be drawn up.
Posted by: at 27/01/2011 01:10

the industry is over ruled and way to many regulations, my training is commercial, merchant marine, fire and lifeboat schooling was basic with approx 6 months to complete and 2 yrs special traning depending on your department, deck/engine room/ galley, ,the yachingindustry training should be basic, you learn as you work,the yacht training schools are supporting rules/regulations in a way to take your hard earned money , with the blessing of goverment,
Posted by: gary at 28/01/2011 21:22

Change the record mate, blah blah commercial is better, blah blah yacht training is just about taking your money blah blah blah. By your logic all yachtie bars are simply out to rob the honest yachtie of their hard earned cash as opposed to providing a service. Get a book and read about capitalism, economics and the market and stop whining.
Posted by: mike french at 28/01/2011 22:38

Your are right I was rude, I apologise to Gary.
However I respond infrequently and only to what I think are inaccurate opinions stated as facts. To suggest that I or anyone else in the training sector collude with governments to simply make money out of crew is both and wrong offensive. It is a differing opinion yes but factually inaccurate and as I said deeply offensive. It costs us a bloody fortune to put into place the standards and rules required by the regulatory authorities. Every one of these rules is designed to benefit and protect the trainee or in the real world the customer. We support the principle completely as you cannot allow the schools to regulate themselves for obvious reasons. But, could we provide training cheaper without some of the less relevant rules? Absolutely.

The whole point of this blog was to illicit the sort of response as we saw from Gary. People need to know the facts and not just listen to opinions. Yacht training cannot evolve without it winning the support of its principle objective and this is can be undermined by unfair views of yachting as simply some sort of a scam to make money for governments.
Posted by: mike french at 29/01/2011 15:20

Education is Great !! But only if you can actually use it to find your next position. Yachting is not meritocratic, it a personality, nationality driven industry. Logic says that the best investment for a yachting career is to be socially connected to the job market...not educationally qualified. At present I can introduce you to unemployed yacht crew with serious sea time and marine trades skills who stand and watch as blow in mates from back home rapidly fill available positions. It will be difficult to change this reality.
Posted by: junior at 03/02/2011 07:47

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