A varied skill set might make the difference between landing your dream job and finding your résumé at the bottom of the pile...
While it may be a crew market for jobs right now, crew recruitment agents agree that those with certifications and experience in more than one discipline have a major edge.
Once upon a time, all you needed was an STCW and ENG1 to land a job in yachting, but as yachts increase in size and the demands of owners shift, prospective crew are expected to come to the table with more.
“There is no such thing as a ‘one trick pony’ in yachting as it is, but the more varied your skillset is, the better,” says Don McKee, director & founder, YOA Ltd. in New Zealand. “As the yachts increase in size, complexity, and amenities, there is a huge demand for varied skills. We have had a number of requests for videographers or drone pilots, kiteboarding instructors, stew/masseuse/beauticians, you name it.”
“When it comes to charter generally we are looking for people who are multi-taskers and have dual backgrounds,” says Lucy Medd, crew manager at Burgess. Alessandro D’Angelo, crewing manager for Fraser’s The Crew Network, agrees: “As yachts are getting bigger, we are seeing more expanded skill sets that go beyond yachting, and that is a huge draw for owners — particularly owners of charter yachts.” Requests for specialised positions flood into crew recruitment offices for photographers and drone pilots, massage therapists and yoga teachers, fishing guides and watersports instructors and even sommeliers and musicians.
Crew with added skill sets are paid an average of 10 to 15 per cent extra
While the general increase in vessel size is credited for the shift towards multi-skilled workers it is also largely influenced by a flux of new owners and charterers looking to have fun on board, using the yacht as a base for adventures and exploration and enjoying a more casual interaction with crew. “With owners wanting to discover more off the beaten track destinations, naturally this comes with different demands,” says D'Angelo. In the past, crew might have simply dropped guests ashore to partake of activities, now it’s expected that crew will accompany guests or even lead an expedition on the water or ashore. Some owners now insist that recruiters hire crew with extra skills.
“These days we have a lot of younger owners who are very sporty,” says Laurence Lewis, president of YPI Crew. “One client who is into cycling wanted all his deckhands to love cycling and to be able to go on tour with him.” And, due to the pandemic, crew with medical certifications have proven particularly valuable too. “We have seen more requests for stew/nurse or paramedics,” says Samantha Wong-Rigoli, crew placement consultant, IYC in Monaco.
While the hire of the multi-skilled crew is certainly on the up, it does raise the question: is it better to hire specialised staff who can take on a singular task, or seek out crew who are capable of performing dual roles on board? Of course, it often depends on the role in question — security personnel, doctors, or concert pianists aren’t likely to scrub the deck or help in the laundry room. But in general, does having crew who can morph between two functions — say, stew and massage therapist, or deckhand and drone operator — double the fun on board, or does this just double the stress on already busy crewmembers?
Chloe Collet, captain/officer recruiter at YPI Crew, is an advocate of blended roles. “It means that everyone is pulling their weight, because there’s nothing worse than the crew feeling like someone isn’t part of the team,” she points out.
Is it better to hire specialised staff who can take on a singular task, or seek out crew who are capable of performing dual roles on board?
Although the idea isn't popular with everyone. “On the face of it, a dual-role position is an attractive option [for owners]… you can offer a specialist service while still having an additional set of hands in the interior or on deck when needed. However, the downside is that you can just as quickly lose that extra set of hands when they are requested to deliver their specialist service, which adds more pressure on the remaining crew,” says Steve Osborne, rotational captain aboard the 60-metre Slipstream.
The fact remains that many owners see multi-diciplined crew as a way to get the most bang for their buck, so naturally, it is a popular request when recruiting. A solution might be to have the majority of the crew be multi-taskers rather than just a few. “I would always advise [owners] to have as many multi-taskers on board as possible. If we can have three crewmembers who are also massage therapists, or three dive masters, for instance, they can spread the workload,” says Medd.
Specialist crew currently in demand:
- AV expert
- Fishing guide
- Diving instructor
- Drone operator
- Yoga teacher
- Mental health expert
- Security personnel
- Massage therapist
Written by Risa Merl and Lauren Beck