The first ever People and Skills survey has revealed the stagnant nature of recruitment in the superyacht industry.
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Conducted by shoreside recruitment specialists Superyacht Recruiter (SYR) and BOAT International, the survey gathered insight from more than 450 participants across the industry. One of the key findings was the extensive length of time that most people have spent working within the superyacht industry.
In shipyard management, for example, 65 per cent of respondents had been in the industry for more than a decade and a further 27 per cent had been in the industry for three to nine years. This trend was also seen in brokerage, with more than 50 per cent of sales brokers having been in the industry for over a decade.
Unsurprisingly, industry longevity was highest at the C-suite level with more than 89 per cent of participants having been in the industry for more than 10 years and the rest having been involved for more than three years.
Despite the potential positives of dedicated service, contributors raised concern that this longevity, combined with a predominately white, male workforce, was limiting opportunities and progression within the industry. One participant commented that it appeared to be a “private members club designed for men”, while another said that there needed to be “greater progress through recognition of talent, ability and drive rather than old boy networks”.
Ed Ewer, CEO of SYR, has noticed a “steady decline” in “fresh talent” entering the superyacht sector over the past eight years. “Of course, it’s a positive that people are staying within the superyacht sector, but with little fresh talent input it does mean that the median age of superyacht sector employees is creeping up and will lead to an ultimate skills shortage,” he adds.
As well as creating a lack of opportunity for those already working in the superyacht industry, there were also concerns raised that this recruitment policy was creating “conservative company cultures” and limiting the talent pool.
“There needs to be a greater awareness of relevant experience outside of the immediate industry,” said one person. “We need to be more transparent, inclusive and open to the outside world,” added another person. “We seem to be talking to each other all the time.”
We need to recruit experienced hires from outside the industry,” agreed another. “Diversity and inclusion need to be at the forefront of this recruitment drive.”
In the marketing sector, 46 per cent of respondents had been in the industry for three to nine years, with a further 43 per cent for 10 or more years. However, there have been several recent high-profile hires from other industries.
In 2021, Dutch shipyard Damen Yachting appointed Thomas Wieringa as marketing director. Wieringa joined the company from the alcohol sector and Damen’s managing director Rose Damen said it was “great to have expertise from outside the industry”. Wieringa showcased his experience with the innovative digital world premiere of the Amels 80 earlier this year.
Heesen’s marketing director Mark van Heffen, who was also appointed in 2021, had previously represented and worked with a vast portfolio of companies including AkzoNobel, PON, and Volkswagen A.G. Heesen also spoke about the importance of hiring someone with an “unconventional approach”.
"From the shipyard floor to the boardroom, introduction of non-industry talent is crucial to push innovation,” adds Ewer. “Yachting has always lagged behind similar industries in part due to a lack of incoming expertise, but through the introduction of professionals for industries such as automotive, aerospace, green technologies and high-value manufacturing we will likely see big changes in how we design, build and market these multimillion dollar crafts.”Read More/Superyacht Recruiter boss Ed Ewer on launching the "disrupting" People and Skills Survey