With a record number of new build projects underway as the superyacht industry booms an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 new crew roles are expected to be created in the next few years.
Despite the turbulence of the past two years, the superyacht industry is on the rise again with its third year of consistent order book growth, according to BOAT International’s annual Global Order Book. It reports an increase of 24.7 percent from last year for projects in build or on order and estimates 1,024 vessels are currently in build.
When they launch, it’ll add anywhere from 6,140 to 10,426 jobs to the crew job market — in addition to the 46,843 to 87,452 jobs already filled, factoring in low and high crew numbers. If this trend continues, then in just five years’ time the industry could require as many as 100,000 crew.
The problem that the industry now faces is finding enough crew to meet the growing demand. The pandemic is partly to blame for the existing jobs gap where vaccination mandates and restricted movement between countries have heavily dictated where crew can and cannot work.
El Crew Co. Director Erica Lay welcomes the growth in new builds and believes it’ll give more opportunities for everyone and hopefully it will encourage new people into the industry. “With the current lack of crew, it seems the owners/manager will have to accept that salaries must increase, and rotation must be introduced,” Lay says. “Both of those elements will no doubt attract more people into the industry and hopefully, attract a few people back into it who’ve left due to lack of time off.”
“However, as the world is learning how to handle the situation with the pandemic, we are seeing the crewing situation improving and we are still lucky to have lots of quality candidates,” YPI Crew Interior Recruitment Consultant Louise Overend says. “We always do a lot to help out young crew coming into the industry so maintaining those relations and caring about our candidates is what’s helped us minimize any shortages that the industry might be facing.”
Jacqui Young, Head of the Engineering Department at YPI CREW, says, “In the same way our clients trust us to find the perfect candidate for them, we are educating them too on the current marketplace. Some need to adapt diverse thinking and be more open-minded in their specific requests and offer benefits to match the level of expertise they are looking for in crew.”
More diverse vessels are coming to the market, which is leading to the search for candidates with more diverse commercial backgrounds.
“Due to the pandemic, it is now difficult to attract highly experienced engineers to commit to new-build projects for one to two years when they are used to equal rotation,” Young says. Brexit regulations (90 days in Europe in every 180) and the difficulty of flying in and out of Europe regularly during weekends has made it difficult to place UK residents on European build projects. This has led to them starting to see more rotational contracts during the build to secure the best talent.
Traditionally, engineers are hired on permanent contract during the build and switch to rotation when operational. However, YPI Crew has noticed an increased demand for rotation from engineers, captains, and officers throughout the build process.
“We are already placing full teams on large [60 meters and above] new-build projects with key clients, which will be launching in 2022 and looking forward to working with many more as the year progresses,” Young says.
More diverse vessels are coming to the market, which is leading to the search for candidates with diverse backgrounds, such as PSV and diesel-electric and high-voltage certificates, Young says. With the popularity of support and explorer yachts, new, specific qualifications are being requested, such as helicopter operations and a Helicopter Landing Officer license, experience with large tenders, and submersible or Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle experience, says Chloe Collet, Captain’s and Officers Recruiter at YPI CREW.
The recruitment needs for new builds will differ between the vessels under and over 500 GT/50 meters.
Crew & Concierge Director Sara Duncan also feels positive about the boom in new builds, pointing out that not only will they generate jobs for crew, but also within the companies that benefit shoreside from the yachting industry.
Compared to a few months ago, Sara says the market has improved slightly, but the demand remains high. Good candidates are snapped up quickly, and when new jobs come in and the clients say they’re in no hurry, Crew & Concierge have been trying to manage their expectations as good candidates aren’t sitting around for long.
The shortage of staff is not just confined to the yachting industry but points to a worldwide shortage. “During the pandemic, I think many people reassessed their life choices and looked at the quality of their life,” she says. “As for life in the UK, many have struggled to get motivated and get themselves back to work, which is the fallout from furlough."
Even though the forecasted projects are set to be launched and delivered between now and 2026, the recruitment needs will differ between the vessels under and over 500 GT/50 meters but YPI Crew Head of the Captain’s and Officers Department Ulrica Lindstrom sees a great future ahead with access to qualified and experienced crew to meet the market needs.
“It is very exciting to see that many new builds are offering environmentally friendly solutions, new technologies, hybrid propulsions, new ways of garbage disposal etc.,” she says. “As recruiters, it’s such a great opportunity to welcome these positive changes in the industry and work with our clients to build high-performing crews that will lead this revolution.”