The PYA and the Training Providers: Dispelling the myths
By Joey Meen, Director of Training and Certification for the PYA
(This complete editorial can be found at: www.yachtingmatters.com Edition 31)
Here at the PYA it recently came to our attention that a few crew (members & non-members) have concerns regarding what the PYA have been up to!!! The PYA have been accused of not only being responsible for the increased number of required training courses, but also criticized for having Training Providers on Council; we currently have three.
I believe these two issues are related, and I want to dispel these myths. To best do this I think it’s important to perhaps start with the function of Council in general.
The PYA Council
Council are elected to bring both expertise and experience to the table as well as to give voice to the membership. This is an unpaid, voluntary position and a privilege, and something that all council members take extremely seriously. We have more than half as many seagoing council as we do land based, however we need to have the eclectic mix to function effectively and offer an all-round (all year) perspective to the welfare of yacht crew. As well as some retired seafarers, many of the land based council members are employed within the various sectors within our industry, such as finance, charter, media, brokerage, training and career advice. Most of these have relevant seagoing experience.
We are expected to wear our PYA hats when working on behalf of PYA, and do so with the focus on “what is best for the crew”. We attend monthly council meetings, offer hours of time to assist the office and advise the members with many issues asked of us. We are also all part of active work groups and give up huge amounts of our free time to attend meetings, shows and seminars all over the world, to facilitate the sharing of information and support for yacht crew and to promote the PYA to new members. All members of the PYA Council agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct in respect to conflicts of interest.
As the PYA‘s Director of Training and Certification I head up the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) workgroup – which means that all issues pertaining to training and crew development land on my desk. The numerous training and certification issues we address is only one area, albeit a major one, that the PYA deals with but, for the sake of this article, this is the one I will be concentrating on.
The value of the PYA Council Training Providers
Having Training Providers on Council is not a new thing, in fact many of you will remember the late Steve Emerson (Principal and Owner of Freedom Yachting); one of the founding members of the PYA,. Many will also remember I am sure the late John Percival, (Principal and Owner of JMPA / Hoylake Sailing School). Both Steve and John served on the PYA Council for many years, and both contributed massively to assisting the PYA and ultimately you, the crewmember, when it came to the new training issues of the time.
We now have John Wyborn (Bluewater), Lars Lippuner (Warsash) and Lynne Edwards (The Crew Academy) on the PYA Council. The Training Providers who give up their time to serve on our Council are actively assisting the PYA membership to have a louder voice than ever before. We are extremely lucky to have these hardworking council members onboard – they help us to have the most comprehensive knowledge base for information sharing any Association can have.
They are not just Training Providers, they sit on many other Associations and Administration boards; they have extensive knowledge and experience within our sector and genuinely care about the future of crew training in yachting. (I work regularly with them both and can hand on heart vouch for this). As was the case with Steve Emerson and John Percival, John Wyborn and Lars Lippuner are also able to open doors for PYA within a number of influential bodies to bring a “yacht table” to the various Maritime Administrations; areas where “yachting” has previously been rather forgotten about.
Most importantly they are committed to our industry and to the crew who work at the heart of it. In their “day job” they come into contact with a huge number of crew at all stages of their careers and are perfectly placed to provide feedback to the association; directly from the horse’s mouth as it were.
When it comes to “voting” at Administration level, we do however wish to avoid even the slightest perception of any conflict of interest, and always ensure that someone (usually me) is present to be the Association’s vote on behalf of the yacht crew.
As legislation increases so does the need to better monitor the fall out with regards to training. Consequently it is vital that we work together to try to govern industry led standards, before the Regulators start to override and control us beyond recognition. Yachting is unique (you know this); we are NOT like other sectors, we are hospitality based and owner driven. If we want to be better understood at Administration levels, so we can tell our story as it is, we need to be part of these Maritime Administrations, and become more proactive with Industry led training needs.
The Yacht Qualification Panel
The PYA and all the MCA approved Training Providers from around the world meet once a year with the MCA to discuss current and future training issues. This includes problems with current courses, exams and learning outcomes.
The PYA have a permanent seat at the table, to be the impartial player in the room and keep a beady eye on the Training Providers. In fact the MCA will always swing new ideas and proposals by the PYA, this does not mean we win everything- but we do always get heard.
Mandatory training requirements
Training seems to be hitting a boom level – with training courses popping up all over the place, from shorebased to online courses. With so much choice it is certainly making it more difficult to weed out what you actually need, what you should be doing and what is, in fact, a scam.
With regard to the increase in “mandatory training”, the PYA has always been at the forefront when it comes to implementation of additional mandatory education. For 25 years we have been on the MCA Yacht Qualifying Panel, which has allowed us to often elbow out (when possible) or ameliorate training that is not relevant. However, as our sector continues to grow many of the “new” course requirements come directly from the regulators so as to fall in line with other sectors; these increased regulations are often compulsory, and serve an internationally-agreed purpose to increase safety and awareness – so not much we can do about that folks!
With the increased size of vessels in yachting, a few years ago the PYA fought and won to have “yacht service” recognized within the commercial sectors. With that came the “glass ceiling” project, where the MCA made clear that, whenever possible, they intended to ensure anything new introduced was “transferable training” so that our crew could more easily cross over to the commercial qualifications. What is that so wrong about that? Having the foresight to keep yacht crew in yachting for the future is clearly important to us and you!
However, it seems that the PYA gets the blame here, most undeservedly, for taking an active role in assisting to ensure the courses are fit for purpose and also for promulgating the news to the industry.
The Ships Cook Assessment, leading to the Ships Cook Certificate (SCC) being a classic example of how the PYA got “dammed” by crew for creating a platform to facilitate a foreseen issue under the new MLC regulations for Cooks onboard yachts. There was no way out of the requirement, so yes, we approached the MCA and negotiated the 2.5 day assessment. We went in asking for “previous qualifications & experience” to be recognized as equivalent to the SCC, this was turned down, we counter acted with an “exam” only request … and ended up with a 2.5 day practical assessment compromise.
In fact this achievement took us hours of work – including writing proposals, running “mock” practical assessments following the full Ships Cook Assessment (MSN 1846), attending many meetings with MCA and a certain amount of persuasion to get this put in place. Why, because if we didn’t then all the “chefs” (yacht cooks) in our sector that came under the requirement, would have had to attend six months (a college year) of study to gain the relevant maritime cooks qualification.
WOW; what a success – yet we keep hearing about how the PYA did a disservice to the Chefs in our industry. The Ships Cook Certificate is NOT about high level “cuisine” it’s about best practices of food safety, hygiene and all round knowledge of food preparation to provide wholesome meals to all disciplines of crew onboard in the maritime sectors. In fact it’s worth pointing out that all divisions of the UK maritime sector have always had to have a qualified Maritime Cook (Ships Cook Certified person onboard) and the yachting community has “gotten away” with it for all this time. With the 2.5 assessment in place this has also facilitated other cooks from all sectors to take an assessment based route to gaining the qualification.
So, due to the growing sector and with that the increase of regulations, it has left administrations (the MCA in particular) with little choice but to implement and increase mandatory training requirements. But the “mandatory” courses are one thing, the non-mandatory courses are quite another.
Taking a closer look at the non-mandatory training on offer it’s easy to assume that anything on offer is needed. Not so, and PYA offer an Accreditation platform to measure learning outcomes and the necessity of the training in the first place. We all know that our sector requires multi layers of knowledge and expertise – focused on hospitality and many other skills sets that are not found in the training of the “mandatory courses”. We encourage personal development for yacht crew and believe that there should be sufficient training programs available to crew that “fill the gaps on training needs”. By accrediting the courses, the PYA can verify that the course is fit for purpose and run by a bona fide outfit! We make sure that the trainers are qualified to teach and have the experience and formal education background to do so. This can’t be bad can it? Is it not better to have YOUR Association accredit the courses out there, so you can have better faith in any training investment you make?
Through the PYA CPD Working group we also receive feedback from many crew and we offer our expertise on actively developing training that has been asked for. Two recent examples of this are the RYA/PYA Tender Operators Course and the GUEST Program.
Following a survey the PYA carried out, which was driven by the growing number of accidents in tenders, as well as complaints from members about the lack of “fit for purpose” training available, we consulted with the RYA on developing a more relevant training provision than that of Powerboat level 2 (which is only suitable for daylight use - for example). We spent hours of discussions and course writing (with PYA crew members / captains and the RYA) to develop this “gap in training provision”.
The PYA GUEST program for Interior Crew Training (If you have been asleep – then check out www.guest-program.com for more info) is another great example of an industry developed training provision. GUEST is run by the sector and developed as a bespoke training and certification path for interior yacht crew. GUEST is also often being referenced to within other Maritime sectors as a measure and indication of what can be achieved following an industry led platform.
The voice of international yacht crew since 1991
At the heart of the PYA is our mission to help crew, to advise and represent members within the industry. This role is becoming more and more demanding and more regulated as yachting grows.
We are not a sector that has government funding available for training, we pay our own way on the whole, and although what we have is far from perfect, the PYA is working really hard to keep up with the trends and needs going forward. You have to ask how much the MCA knows about the complexities of running modern yachts. If left up to them, without the assistance of the PYA and Training Providers worldwide, we would not have the Yacht Qualifications available at all.
So who should be mapping out your career path if not the PYA? Who is best placed to understand education and training and learning outcomes for yacht crew? The PYA has quite a few hundred years’ worth of expertise and experience within council, however we can’t do it alone – it’s necessary to consult with members, industry specialists, other Associations and Training Providers to explore the training expectations and standards needed if we are to get it right. It’s worth noting that ALL yacht crew who hold the MCA Yacht Qualifications have made a living from the spadework that the PYA has invested since 1991, this spadework takes time and funding, and all the while the PYA does not make any financial profits from the working contributions we make to Administration or Training Providers. In fact we have to rely on sponsorship to facilitate the expenses for the work we do, and we do this, as volunteers, with the best interest of the crew at heart.
We have always invited members to give us feedback and use their membership as “their voice”. But we don’t get enough crew coming to us with opinions or offering to be part of workgroup. I suspect we are indeed guilty of not engaging more with our members in this area; perhaps reaching out with surveys and list workgroup activities for members to join - would be the way ahead.
PYA are at the heart of what you do on a daily basis and have been for over 25 years, whether you know it or not, so the message is this – we invite you to tell us what you need – in fact there is a survey going out as you read this (September 2016) asking you what you need from PYA and why?
If you want your voice heard at the Yacht Qualification Panel, you need to join the PYA and get involved.
DON’T JUST BE A PASSIVE RECIPIENT OF WHAT OTHERS DECIDE; BECOME PART OF THE PROCESS.