As a crew recruitment agent, I’m naturally in contact with a large number of Deckhands on a weekly basis, and there’s a been a pattern emerging when it comes to why they want to move on.
Of course, there are often a multitude of different reasons for Deckhands wanting to explore new opportunities, but it’s becoming increasingly the case that boredom and lack of exposure to more deck activities is a key motivation.
We all know that the more mundane and laborious tasks are inevitably a big part of the job, but are senior Deckhands and Chief Officers missing the boat (pardon the pun) in terms of upskilling their junior crew and essentially, retaining them?
From conversations we have with our candidates, they are desperate to be part of the action and exciting stuff, even if it’s only every now and then.
Whilst it’s not always possible for every deckhand to get involved with the more skilled operations onboard, there’s surely no reason why they can’t observe or shadow someone more senior, is there?
The driving force?
Yet another pun, but all relative because the desire to drive tenders is high on the agenda for a lot of Deckhands. One of the most common questions we get asked when briefing candidates on a role is – ‘do we get to drive the tenders’?
This is also backed up by a recent poll we conduction, in which almost a third of Deckhands said they get no exposure to driving tenders or not as much as they would like to, even those with a Yachtmaster.
On a junior level, I would say it’s a lot more than this.
Instead, it seems to be the responsibility of HODs. Safety is obviously paramount, but tender driving is a highly desirable skill for Deckhands and vital for career progression and the value of supporting this with training should not be underestimated.
Junior crew are eager to learn and hungry to pick up new skills to add to their arsenal, so it is completely understandable for them to be frustrated when these opportunities are not forthcoming.
If HODs just took a small amount of time out of their day to share their knowledge and experience with junior Deckhands, it could dramatically improve crew longevity.
Getting time driving tenders isn’t the only area that Deckhands want to progress in either.
A lot of deck crew have strong additional skills such as carpentry, watersports or videography that don’t get skills utilised onboard. And this would not even necessarily require additional training or support!
There’s a lot to be said about encouraging crew into the areas they’re interested. It will not only upskill the crew onboard but will also lead to better job satisfaction, productivity and a healthier work environment.
Ultimately, if you train your crew and have a multitalented group on deck, this will free up time for the HODs to focus on the more challenging and important duties onboard, resulting in a smoother and more professional operation.