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Empowering Superyacht Crews: The Strategic Path to Upskilling and Retention

High turnover rates in the superyacht industry are often due to a lack of training and career progression opportunities. A SuperYacht News Survey in 2022 found that this issue was the second biggest motivator to change jobs, with the first being a poor work/life balance (1).

Additionally, poor leadership was said to account for around 36% of crew leaving a yacht (2). High staff turnover not only disrupts operations but also hampers overall efficiency and morale, incurring high costs for replacement. Quay Crew found that the replacement cost of crew turnover for a junior position was $21,000 in 2023 (3).

To combat these challenges, professionalising training and learning initiatives can play a crucial role in retaining talent and enhancing operational effectiveness.

The Importance of Upskilling in the Superyacht Industry

As the superyacht sector evolves, the complexity of operations continues to rise. There is a growing emphasis on safety and regulatory compliance, necessitating a skilled and knowledgeable crew. Upskilling is essential to meet these demands as it enhances crew competence, ensures adherence to regulations, and bolsters safety onboard. By investing in crew training, operators can ensure their vessels are manned by proficient and compliant professionals, ultimately elevating industry standards.

The Benefits of Upskilling for Crews and Operators

Upskilling offers numerous advantages for both crew members and operators. For the crew, it leads to improved job satisfaction, career development opportunities, and a safer working environment. For operators, it translates to higher retention rates, long-term operational efficiencies, and cost savings. A well-trained crew is more likely to stay with an employer, reducing the costs associated with high turnover and frequent recruitment. Moreover, investing in crew development fosters a loyal and motivated workforce, contributing to the overall success of the operation.

Challenges to Upskilling in the Superyacht Industry

Despite the clear benefits, several obstacles hinder effective training in the superyacht industry. Logistical difficulties, time constraints, and the variability of crew schedules often impede traditional training methods. However, eLearning and digital training solutions can overcome these hurdles by offering flexible, accessible, and comprehensive training options. These technologies enable crew members to learn at their own pace and convenience, ensuring that training does not interfere with their duties.

Introducing the Kilo ELBO Programme

We are pleased to introduce an innovative solution already in use in the superyacht industry: the Kilo Entry Level Bridge Operations (ELBO) programme. The ELBO programme is specifically designed for junior crew members, utilising Kilo’s Virtual Maritime Academy (VMA) online learning platform to provide comprehensive training. The curriculum covers foundational aspects of bridge operations, including bridge team roles, Bridge Resource Management (BRM), lookout principles, steering principles, fundamental navigational theory, and common navigation systems. Through a combination of engaging content and exercises, participants develop a thorough understanding of the key components that govern safe and efficient vessel navigation.

This online learning is complemented by Kilo’s VR solution, VASCO, providing an immersive and supportive environment for practising vital skills in a realistic simulated setting. This allows trainees to assume the role of a rating and work alongside experienced bridge teams to tackle challenges and resolve complex situations.

By the conclusion of the course alongside the VR bridge simulator, participants emerge with the competence and confidence necessary to contribute effectively to bridge operations, enhancing overall safety and efficiency aboard superyachts.

The superyacht industry stands at a crucial juncture where crew retention and operational excellence are more intertwined than ever before. As we have explored, the costs of high turnover—both financial and operational—are substantial, with junior position replacements potentially costing up to $21,000. However, the solution lies not just in reducing turnover but in fostering a culture of continuous improvement and professional growth. Upskilling programmes, exemplified by initiatives like the Kilo ELBO programme, offer a multifaceted approach to addressing these industry-wide challenges. By investing in comprehensive training, operators can:

1. Significantly reduce turnover costs and operational disruptions.

2. Enhance onboard safety and regulatory compliance.

3. Improve crew satisfaction and career progression, addressing two of the top reasons for job changes.

4. Cultivate leadership skills, potentially mitigating the 36% of departures attributed to poor leadership.

5. Adapt to the increasing complexity of superyacht operations with a more skilled workforce.

Moreover, the adoption of innovative training methods such as eLearning platforms and VR simulations allows for flexible, engaging, and effective skill development that fits the unique demands of life at sea.

As the industry continues to evolve, those who prioritise crew development will likely find themselves at a significant competitive advantage. They will not only retain top talent but also attract ambitious professionals seeking growth opportunities. In essence, upskilling is not merely a solution to current challenges—it is an investment in the future of your crew, your vessel, and the superyacht industry as a whole.

To learn more about the ELBO programme and how it can be integrated into your training strategies, as well as our VASCO VR Bridge Simulator, visit our website or contact Kilo directly. Invest in your crew's development today and pave the way for a safer, more efficient, and loyal workforce.

For more details or to enrol in the programme, please see Entry Level Bridge Operations Course or contact us at


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