What Do You Teach the Man Who Knows Everything?

3 September 2010 By Mike French

The Apex of the yachting career pyramid is the realm of the captain. Assuming that s/he arrived there by climbing the yacht specific MCA-qualification ladder, it seems there is little more to learn once s/he’s reached the top. In fact the for the time being, the Master 3000 Ton (Yachts) certificate requires no more than four days of medical refresher training every five years in order to maintain its validity. So, why would any captain think about additional training? And even if s/he did, what options are there?

Of course outside the yachting industry educational options abound. Senior crew seeking to learn or develop skills can use e-learning to study anything from welding to the academic heights of a PHD. There are clear practical uses for captains to hone the skills they utilize in their professional lives. Courses in basic accountancy, business administration and management would undoubtedly benefit some, if not all.

Unfortunately, there are relatively few elective training courses aimed at yacht crew. This is because the yacht training industry survives on providing courses mandated by regulation, with the exception of courses such as interior training programmes. However, MPI group offers the “Superyacht Operations Diploma” which is aimed at industry professionals and aims to provide them “...a chance to reinforce and enhance [their] career path opportunities within the Superyacht Industry.” The diploma is an industry specific management qualification at the foundation degree level. MPI group also offer other courses in surveying and boat retail and brokerage. These courses have become popular as there is undoubtedly a shelf life for many working aboard yachts and the transition ashore is, for many inevitable.

E-learning clearly has opened the doors for those seeking to develop their professional repertoire beyond yacht operation and mans education and work are no longer mutually exclusive endeavors. Whether it is another rung in the ladder, a framed degree certificate or simply learning how to use Quickbooks, the keyboard offers a convenient alternative to the blackboard.

There are various computer programs such as Quickbooks and Excel that will put captains in the driver’s seat when it comes to managing everything from onboard accounts and finances to organizing the vessel’s inventory. These computer skills give captains a leg up when looking for new career opportunities and also make their lives a bit easier and less chaotic. Training, especially in this economy, is after all rapidly becoming an attractive investment as opposed to a cost.

Captains seeking to gain more qualifications or re-train to prepare for a land-based career can build upon their portfolio of expertise with a number of formal options. In the UK, the Open University offers a variety of courses to choose from, many delivered through distance learning. In the U.S., the American Public University, an exclusively online university, has been providing training for many years to those leaving the institutionalized military system and entering “civvy” life. There are clear parallels with leaving yachting and moving ashore.

Regardless of whether you, as a captain, are trying to pad your CV or if you’re considering jumping ship for the final time and saying goodbye to the sea, there are lots of learning opportunities out there. After all…“All of life is leaning; therefore education can never end,” -Eduard Lindemann.