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Why can’t I hire good junior crew?

For the purposes of this article I am classing all crew with under 2 years of experience as junior crew. This is something I hear quite a lot, good yachts expressing surprise that they can’t secure the quality of deckhand or stewardess that they want. I think that it comes down to one reason mainly which I will expand on below.

Yachting is changing, at a rate of knots (boom, boom) and yachts need to adjust with it. Quay Crew works with some great yachts which haven’t quite kept up and adapted yet which means they struggle to get the best crew, despite being very appealing to work for in a lot of respects.

To be specific I am referring to the package being offered to these crew. Not salary generally but holiday. The reality is if you aren’t offering 60 days of leave then you will struggle to secure the best crew. If you are only offering 30, 38, 42, 45 etc then you are fighting a losing battle unless you are offering something else which is exceptional eg very busy charter with 30k of tips a year. You can be the best run, happiest yacht in the world and you will still struggle to get the best crew. The reason being the best crew will be interviewing with multiple yachts and will often have multiple options. Every yacht will be doing the best to sell themselves as a great choice so it comes down to the bare statistics, holiday and to a lesser extent money.

The next issue to address is rotation. Increasingly yachts are offering rotation. For the sake of this article I am classing rotation as 3:1, 4:2, 2:1. NOT 5:1. So the best crew are now having roles offering them holiday which is a multiple of other yachts holiday package. Once junior yacht crew start seeing these roles advertised and then get interviewed for a role on a yacht offering 3:1 then 38 days just doesn’t cut it.

Recently we had a quick look at the deckhand roles and what they were offering. Approx. 10% were offering less than 60 days. 20% were offering rotation of some description and the other 70% were offering 60 days. This was just a casual snapshot of one department on a particular day last week. Not scientific as I have also rounded the numbers up and down, plus it’s too small a sample to draw too much from it. But…. An illuminating insight into what is going on with leave.

Case Study:

50m private Feadship. This is a great client with excellent long serving crew. Captain 7 years, Chief Stew 10 years, Chief Eng 8 years etc. Excellent salaries paid, superb longevity on board and a great working atmosphere. Lovely owner who really interacts with the crew and cares about them. Basically a great working environment. The yacht wanted crew who already had good longevity who would commit to the program long term. However, the yacht was only offering 38 days of holiday. They had two junior positions to fill on board and repeatedly came up against the objection of the holiday wasn’t good enough. They yacht had been actively recruiting those positions for around 2 months, interviewed dozens of candidates and offered multiple crew. The Captain went to management and leave was improved to 60 days. The roles were filled within a week after improving the leave package.

So what is the point of this blog? It’s partly to educate, but it is mainly to encourage yachts to campaign for their crew and get 60 days of leave for everyone as a minimum. Do that and you will find it significantly easier to recruit crew and you will also manage to hold onto them for longer. I appreciate that this involves adding additional cost to the annual budget, but I also believe the cost of not doing it will be far higher in the long run.

Why can’t I hire good junior crew?

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Tim Clarke

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