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The Crew Shortage

The Crew Shortage

As superyacht sales grow, crew and staff struggle to keep up.

by K. Dickerson (Yacht Channel)

With a continuing surge in the demand for superyachts, recruiting, as well as retaining, talented crew is becoming a challenge. Yachts have gotten larger, regulations have become more stringent and the yachting industry, which only five years ago was seen to be a cottage industry, has come of age. Studies show that most officers and crew come from Western Europe, the UK being the highest, followed by Australia, Canada and the USA, with Poland, Romania and the old Eastern block nations close behind.

The short-term fix currently taken by recruiters is to hire from the commercial maritime industry (cruise lines). They too are facing crew shortages with millions invested in top quality yachts.

The long-term fix is to find new sources of crew and train them. However, yacht owners are reluctant to take staff with no ‘track record’. If they want to run their yachts successfully, owners will have to reevaluate their options of how to obtain their crew. They will need to consider sponsoring crew training, which will become part of the recruitment package, from pay to leave, rotation and even supporting study programs, as cruise lines currently do.

Key ideas that must be considered for retaining quality crew include pay rates, leave rotation, pension programs, medical insurance plans, travel incentives, study programs and trainee, officer and crew programs. These ideas are not new. In fact, some innovative owners are already implementing some or all of these ideas. Unfortunately, owners are investing big money only to have their crew ‘poached’ by the highest bidder.

In attempt to find a solution to the problematic crew shortage, the superyacht industry has thrown the gauntlet down to crewing agencies, recruitment and management companies, and training providers to find, source and supply new talent for those who charter and own private yachts.

For the yacht owners or captains looking for qualified crew, there are many crew training and crew placement companies that have taken recruiting and retaining problems into consideration. These companies are doing what they can to supply superyachts with the quality crews they so badly need. Professional Yachtmaster Training, a South African-based crew training company, has a senior staff of experienced yachtsmen with hundreds of thousands of sea miles experience. They offer a full range of courses that go from 'Four Week International Crew Training' to 'Hostess/Stewardess,' as well as MCA recognized courses. Liverpool John Moores University, a UK-based company, has the UK’s only 360 degree ship-handling simulator in addition to MCA Yacht Crew Training and Oral Preparation. In the crew placement field, there are many companies with great reputations.

Elite Crew International, a Florida-based company, provides professional crew placement services that cater to more than 800 superyachts, with their huge database of more than 10,000 registered crew. Another Floridian company, The Crew Network, has seven international offices across the yachting capitals of the world. They combine personal contacts with the internet to offer 'real time' information to Captains regarding potential crew. AMPM Crew Solutions is an independent service provider with offices in Antibes and Sweden dealing with personnel matters worldwide. When you contact AMPM you are able to speak with company representatives with a broad background in Commercial Shipping, Yachting, and Hospitality.