As a crew agent I am finding this issue over and over again so thought I would pop it all down on paper to ask what the world thinks about people rising through the ranks at a pace Usain Bolt would be proud of!
This morning my colleague Marc and I were having a chat about a few candidates we have, as we share the interior roles we were trying to ascertain where we should place these wonderful candidates and to be honest it is tough. As an agency we believe in listening to both the wants of the candidates against the wants of the client, and being able to marry the two is where the placement magic happens. But how do we do that when both entities are in completely different places when it comes to what they are looking for?
Let’s look at a typical second stew role for example, it isn’t unheard of for a 60m vessel to be asking for a candidate with a minimum of three years’ experience preferably within a similar size range, sounds simple enough, but it isn’t when majority of second stews looking within this area are lucky to have two years’ experience. So, the question is who has it wrong?
As I have been in the yachting world for far too many years to admit to, I remember a time when this was standard requirements and people would fight to move up, so what changed? Well, there are a few factors for this in my personal opinion…….
- The sheer volume of vessels growing – As we know the number of vessels is exploding year on year, so more and more qualified crew are needed this has an effect that people are being promoted too quickly as the number of experienced crew isn’t enough to fill all the open roles.
- COVID – yup that old chestnut, if you think Covid was 3 years ago so there is a vacuum of crew who started within that time frame, hardly any new faces or dock-walkers that year meant that the number of crew with 3 year’s experience, is extremely hard to find
- Initial bad hiring – I have heard this so many times, I was employed as a 3rd but the 2nd was terrible so after a month they fired her and I was asked to step up and we looked for a junior stew. Now not all cases but I have a feeling a large number of these internal promotions are done to keep that crew member happy and on board, rather than getting the right person on to fill the space. When these things happen it is normally mid season and last minute so anyone of any experience may not be available for the time that you need them by, also if you upset another crew member will they also leave, meaning you are now down 2 crew members! Rather not hey!
- The generation we are in – Now as an older generation of yachties I hate it when I hear “When I was a junior we would never dream of doing/thinking that!” It just makes me feel 300 years older than I am to begin with. But there is some value in it as we are in a different generation now and we need to recognize that. People are now more driven, they have access to far more training and their ability to problem solve worldwide without having to have experience of the area is so much quicker and better for them. Less people come to yachting to have a laugh and more people want to make this a career move up the ranks earn good money and get out. So can we blame the drive to rise through the ranks quickly?
All I know is as an agent we need to get to a place where we can have a standard set and then it be stuck to really, if you ask me for someone with three years experience please don’t then hire someone with only one, but in the same breath if you do find your self rising through the ranks quickly please make sure you know that you may still need some experience for a few years at the same level.
Being a junior is tough, being the leader is tougher. The majority of time crew turnover is down to bad management and in my own opinion management is something you learn through years in the industry, being exposed to different management styles to establish your own, to experience different situations to give you that fully rounded management style you are going to need to be a good leader. If we keep pushing people up through the ranks too quickly we will see an industry with even worse longevity than we already have.
So in conclusion I know there are exceptions to every rule but please listen when you are a junior to the agents advise, it may just not be your time yet to step up we don’t mean it to be horrible but rather to answer the needs of our clients and then in turn retain the longevity and training of great managers for the future.