Over the last few years, and specifically since COVID-19, there has been a significant shift in the superyacht jobs market.
The race to both attract and retain experienced crew members has never been more fierce and good crew are now receiving more competing job offers than ever before. With the significant increase in demand for these crew members, the landscape of the yachting jobs market has changed. Many yachts are now going back to the drawing board realising that a revised and more compelling crew package is needed to both attract and retain the industries top talent, in this candidate short jobs market.
Whilst the reason behind the current crew shortage remains largely unknown, as there are many factors at play, it is reasonable to assume that in a post-pandemic world yacht crew are becoming increasingly hesitant to take ‘the next job that comes along’ and are holding out for a position that fully suits them and their medium to long term career goals, which extends beyond the salary.
Contrary to popular belief, data suggests that overall crew are in fact looking for permanent positions on a vessel they can stay on and develop their respective careers long-term however, they are struggling to find suitable vessels that will accommodate the shift in crew culture and requirements.
This is evident in the increase in short gaps we are observing on candidate’s CV’s and the feedback we are getting directly from experienced crew. Interestingly, we are hearing from crew that the two biggest deciding factors when contemplating a job offer are 1) paid leave / rotation and 2) onboard culture, over the financial elements of the package.
Of course, the salary is a big part of any crew package however, it is not the main area of focus compared to years gone by where the salary may have been the biggest driving factor. Additionally, crew are increasingly aware of a vessel’s reputation (amongst fellow crew) and dedicate notable time and attention to this when considering a job offer. With the increasing power of social media and specific, dedicated online forums, it is now only few clicks away to find out if a boat has a bad reputation, poor management, or a high turnover of crew etc.
Shannon Walker-Nel, M/Y Crew Agency’s Head of Resourcing, believes that there is also a reluctance from even junior crew to take the first job that comes up. “I have noticed recently a large number of junior crew requesting certain entitlements which would typically be applicable to more experienced crew, such as rotation or extended paid leave; higher salaries and even couples positions. Shannon continues. “It is clear to me that junior crew are certainly expecting more from the industry now compared to previous years, which has added to the overall shortage of crew.”
Vessels that are accepting this new reality (and have realigned their packages to accommodate these crew requirements) are the vessels who are securing the top talent and holding onto them. Vessels that are not adjusting, on the other hand, are experiencing an increasingly high rate of crew turnover, spiralling recruitment costs and overall long-term vessel instability.
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