By Robert Wielaard
With eight new-build projects filling its halls, Feadship Royal Dutch Shipyards has both eyes on a future far beyond its launch dates. A shortage of skilled labour has become an increasingly pressing issue in the yachting industry, as the number of yacht deliveries begins to rise following the global financial crisis. Not just shortages of able crew, but also of skilled labour for the construction of luxury yachts.
Farouk Nefzi, Feadship’s head of marketing, says that qualified workers such as welders, painters and highly skilled craftsmen are “not thick on the ground.”
Feadship has had an on-site “company school” for several years that produces an impressive pool of able craftsmen.
Currently, almost 100 apprentices work and learn at Feadship’s three construction sites in the Netherlands. “I think at Feadship we are unique in that we tackle the labour shortage issue seriously,” says Nefzi. “Our school is officially recognised by the Dutch education authorities.”
The yard’s school teaches in Dutch and English and offers instruction on the basics of carpentry, industrial paints, construction and mechanical engineering. After two years of six hours of basic training per week, students can sign on with Feadship for at least two more years if they pass an exam.
Nefzi says Feadship requires advanced labour skills since its superyachts are not built from a standard platform. “Our school creates an attractive pool of talent,” he says. “It also offers apprentices an attractive option. If they have to choose an industrial sector, then, frankly, we at Feadship offer them a very sexy product.”
Feadship has launched more than 250 superyachts since 1949. The company is a cooperation between two yards – Royal van Lent & Royal De Vries – along with maritime engineering company De Voogt Naval Architects.