Launched in February 2021, SYR is a new recruitment company for shore-based roles in the superyacht industry. The company will focus on recruiting for a range of roles in the superyacht, high-performance craft and maritime technology markets, as well as supporting yacht crew transitioning ashore.

Having started out in the superyacht industry recruiting for skilled trade roles, SYR founder and managing director Ed Ewer then progressed onto executive searches. Over the years he has built up a wealth of industry connections and gained in-depth knowledge of the various roles across all sectors and levels of seniority. As such, Ewer recognises the particular challenges that recruitment for shore-based sectors presents.

“First and foremost is time,” he explains. “In the lion’s share of cases, a recruiter is employed because a company doesn’t have the time or resources to scour job boards, applications and personal contacts in order to find a suitable candidate. As profit margins are squeezed and delivery times need to be reduced, shipyards, design studios and supply chains are feeling the squeeze – a recruiter helps to ease this.” 

SYR founder and managing director Ed Ewer

The other key challenge for the sector that Ewer perceives is access to a relevant talent pool; “There are a surprisingly finite number of candidates within the superyacht world that companies will consider, leading to the same names circulating time and again. As long as there are enough people for the jobs, in theory this presents no issue. However, when the market demands innovation or growth, a problem arises. This is where the industry needs to start looking elsewhere for candidates: could a car designer bring new ideas to yachting? And could a high-end residential agent be a good sales broker?”

There are also particular sectors within the industry that are struggling with a lack of suitable candidates. For example, SYR currently has requirements from a number of brokerage houses for around 15 sales and charter brokers. “While there isn’t necessarily a shortage of brokers, I think there is a shortage of skilled ones – the guys who can really generate big revenues for their employers,” he continues. “I think this is part of the reason for the commission-only model being more prevalent at the moment.” 

“While there isn’t necessarily a shortage of brokers, I think there is a shortage of skilled ones – the guys who can really generate big revenues for their employers...”

Furthermore, Ewer perceives a trend towards the more experienced broker, with few new, junior brokers entering the market to take the place of those reaching the end of their careers. “As with the yacht-building sector, this could end up leading to a shortage of talent in the brokerage sector in the next five-to-ten years,” he adds. “My feeling is that more companies need to nurture young talent: train, develop and supercharge a new breed of broker to keep in touch with how the buyer market is also evolving in areas such as environmental and sustainable thought processes.”

Ewer has also observed a lack of experienced candidates for technical roles, such as naval architects; “We have an exceptional flow of talent from universities in countries such as the UK and Italy that will continue to fuel the market, but the market seems to drastically thin once you look for around 15 years of experience. Speaking with one of the world’s largest builders only today, they are finding it difficult to find senior technical individuals when a company with their reputation should be inundated. Is something happening where these individuals are being pulled away to the cruise or commercial maritime sectors at a certain earning or experience level? Does the industry need to offer more career growth, or money? This is a slightly harder question to answer, but one we’re keen to better understand.”

Ewer acknowledges that there will always be some shortage in skilled tradespeople – young people are becoming more digital, meaning skills such as laminating, welding and carpentry are less appealing . “As a global ship and yacht building sector, we need to make manual skilled work more appealing to young people,” he concludes. “Could the industry work together on this? Yes, sure! As it’s for all of our benefits; who will build our yachts otherwise?”

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