Superyacht recruitment has always been an incredibly competitive market for both those looking for jobs and those looking for crew. In 2022, I predict that expectations will continue to rise across the board, lifestyle priorities will change for crew and owners and the superyacht sector as a whole will change significantly.
With Covid still playing a huge impact in our everyday lives, it’s fair to say this has also undoubtedly affected the yachting sector.
There’s been a dramatic rise in the demand for superyachts, with the new build market booming and charters busier than ever. More UHNWs are seeking a private safe haven to escape to, an environment completely within their control and more importantly, prioritising down time with family and friends.
On the crew side, many yachties have also reassessed their work life balance. Sadly, many were either stuck onboard for months or unable to travel to and from vessels, making many of them leave the sector or seek roles with much more attractive leave packages.
This in turn led to a ridiculously high turnover of crew, even on yachts with great packages.
The gap between supply and demand therefore widened, with fewer (quality) crew available and more yachts to service. To combat this, I think owners, Captains and management companies are starting to re-evaluate what they can offer crew to attract the best.
Rotation, rotation, rotation
The biggest change this year will be the change to crew leave packages. Rotation is one of the buzz words often carelessly flung around within superyacht recruitment, but I can assure you that yachts are taking notice.
I’ve spoken to many yachts who have implemented or are about to implement a 3:1 rotation for junior crew and some of our clients have actually brought in a time for time rotation for all crew onboard, which is incredible. They will need to carefully assess this on a case by case basis and consider the additional recruitment needed and sea time required for some roles, but it’s definitely a positive move.
As a result of this upward trend, yachts offering 38, 42, 45 days leave etc will have practically zero chance of securing the crew they want unless they are an extremely busy charter. They will also find retaining crew very difficult too. The new norm will be 3:1 instead of 60 days leave on the best yachts.
A proper rotation is fast becoming the top priority for many crew when looking for a new job and yachts not supplying that will have to compromise on their requirements.
The superyacht recruitment market remains candidate-led with an extreme shortage of quality crew available. Those that are open to new roles or actively looking are gone before yachts are even reviewing CVs.
Yachts will need to start compromising on level of experience, nationality and role history. Second Officers or Engineers stepping into their first Chief role for example, or looking to green crew. And even this market is slow with fewer entering the market, not least because of travel and marina access restrictions making dockwalking near on impossible. It’s also a practice that should be phased out in my opinion.
Essentially, I think it’s far better to hire someone genuinely enthusiastic who isn’t perfect, than to hire someone who looks stronger on paper but will always be looking over their shoulder for a ‘better’ yacht.
I wrote recently about the importance of crew retention, particularly in the current market. A key motivator for this, if not promoting a positive crew culture and longevity, is financial.
At Quay Crew we have done some research with clients and found that the cost of replacing a crew member is far, far higher than previously thought. It’s not just the agency fee you have to take into account (if you use one), but there’s also owed leave and notice periods, travel and uniform costs plus the indirect cost of lost ‘knowledge’ and many more.
When all costs are considered, it can cost anywhere between €15,000 and €40,000 to recruit a new crew member depending on the role and experience required.
This will mean yachts will endeavour to lower their turnover and if they can’t change their leave package, then there are plenty of other ways to make the overall packages more appealing.
Mental health and management
Off the back of our mental health survey, it’s apparent that many crew have or are suffering from mental health issues onboard and that poor leadership is either a catalyst or not helping the situation.
Thankfully, we’ve already received direct feedback from yachts and management companies that support and training packages are being put in place. Leadership courses are also high on the agenda for Captains and HODs and this is something the likes of Legasea are pushing through their mentorship programme and that we will be working on in specific relation to managing mental health alongside our partners, MHSS.
The Crew Academy also offers some great courses that senior crew should look into as a form of personal and professional development as it will no doubt be a valuable skill in any role.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what’s in store for superyacht recruitment this year or if you’re experiencing any challenges? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.