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?