Hiring qualified and well-trained people is a major challenge for marina operators.
The marina industry lacks dedicated initial training, and as such, people working in our sector are arriving with a vast array of completely diverse career backgrounds. In itself, the variety of new skills might be considered as an advantage for those who lead the business and share information and best-profit ideas, as it fosters new practices and trends and helps our industry to remain dynamic and better able to cope with changing customer expectations.
On the other hand however, problems arise when trying to establish an employee profile to work in the business… Imagine that you need to hire an accountant for your marina. Naturally, in this case you would be looking for someone with a certain level of financial training. But is a qualified person with a strong experience of accounting activities in a plumbing product wholesale really adapted to your business? Same with a maintenance officer. Is someone with a great background in several plants maintenance, or even a polyvalent emergency repairman the good candidate to deal with floating structures, boat handling, or simply working under the storm to fix something?
Due to the lack of specific marina basic education, marina operators need to choose applicants with the best possible capabilities, and then organise corporate training for their new arriving staff, spending hours to adapt the skills of their employees to our business environment, fortunately in a helpful osmosis with experienced colleagues…
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to encourage the development of professional training courses, like those delivered by the Global Marina Institute, as this is the key for a better service and a better management of our marinas. Not only the IMM (Intermediate Marina Manager) and the AMM (Advanced Marina Manager) courses, which are definitely relevant to increase the qualification of managers, and stimulate their open mindedness and flexibility, but also 101 courses, such as those delivered in Australia. Such one-day courses are designed for those who are contemplating, or have recently started a career in the marina industry and are seeking to broaden their understanding of marinas, meet and share ideas and learn the fundamentals of marina operations. We need to import this practice to Europe, in each country and every language!
Another positive initiative from Down Under is the “Attendant Course” which is a great stepping stone for people aged 15+ to enter the marina industry. It meets the needs of young people wanting to accrue experience and learn more about the industry. It also meets the needs of the industry by introducing young people to the career prospects and opportunities within the industry. It also stimulates young people to apply for seasonal jobs in our yacht harbours, and to be prepared for working with us during the summer.
And what can be said about webinars, very common in the US and Australasia, in order to deliver short information and training on topics of importance for the marina industry, and sadly infrequent throughout our continent?
And finally, we have to pay attention to the benefits of apprenticeship. Apprentices can be found in the boating industry, but very few in the marina sector. However, apprenticeship funding is available is all European countries, and sometimes strongly encouraged and supported by the government authorities…
The European marina industry needs an awareness of the training issues. The lack of training offers leads to a deficit of visibility which leads to a dearth of attractiveness. It is clearly a difficult challenge, since we remain a mosaic of countries with different languages, several regulations, and diverse customs…
But I guess that nearly all of us are suffering the same situation, and we must react accordingly!
Jean-Michel Gaigné CMM
Chairman TransEurope Marinas
Member of GMI Advisory Board, ICOMIA Marinas Group and The Yacht Harbour Association Council.