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  • Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

    After a career at sea as a 'civvy', I am dreading going back to college as an oldie! I can remember the mature students when I was at Uni and hope to God I don't turn into one of them!!
    Any first hand stories of dealing with those fresh from the nest, or am I worrying unduely?

  • #2
    Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

    I just find it amusing that you regard yourself as an "oldie" at 21.

    One of the problems in recent times is idea that everyone has to go to some form of training as soon as they leave school; but frankly, most people don't really know what they want to do when they're young - even the ones that seem to, don't; they are simply groomed for it, and whilst on the outside they seem like textbook successes, behind the facade they drift on watching their lives pass by as they ascend into the safe predictable comfort of middle management, and then have a mid-life crisis later on.

    My own experience is of originally not wanting to go to uni, and then as accidentally as it's possible to be, ended up going to uni (when I was about 23-ish), and spending way too long there, at a few different institutions (to do a few different things). Most recently having to work with coursemates who I'm nearly biologically able of fathering.

    From what I hear, there has been a growing number of people in their late 20s, thirties, and even forties, starting cadetships, and often, they are the best performing students results-wise - because they are not distracted by hormones perhaps; and because they are more certain about why they're there than the former "traditional" age-range of 16-23 year-olds.

    Companies are going through the process of firstly accepting the change brought by new legislation; and then (hopefully), realising the benefits of having older trainees... who all bring something extra to the job from their "former lives".

    I think you will inevitably find yourself hanging around with those cadets (of all ages) with a more mature outlook; and the benefits to you will be in study buddy support and things like that - none of the peer pressure to go to the pub every night... it's not abnormal for mature students to stay in and do their homework.

    What do you mean by "as a civvy"?! A passenger? A member of cruise-ship staff?
    Originally posted by steamer
    After a career at sea as a 'civvy',
    Emeritus Admin & Founding Member

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    • #3
      Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

      The only problem that I've found with some of the 'older' cadets is that more than a few of them seem to think that because they're a certain age that they're above certain things - e.g. some of the more menial (yet essential) cadet task, cabin cleanliness, appearance etc.
      It's made doubly harder when you've got the likes of a 20 year old 3rd Mate telling a 30 year old cadet what to do - the latter often don't listen because they think they've seen it all/who is this pip squeak telling them what to do etc.
      I've had to interject quite a few times in recent years to remind those people precisely where they are in the 'food chain' - age should have no relevance.

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      • #4
        Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

        All generalisations are untrue.

        I've also noticed that some young officers can have real attitude problems and lack management skills to know how to deal with a 32-year-old cadet v a 16-year old cadet, and can seem to get a buzz out of putting someone older than them down.
        Sometimes this can come from a sense of inadequacy (for example if the older cadet has more quals than them from their "former lives"); sometimes just a lack of fully developed leadership skills or experience of managing people who are older and possibly wiser in some respects than themselves.

        Some of the older cadets will come from "traditional backgrounds" (i.e. working class, vocational education backgrounds), but have for one reason or another bumbled from one career to another (which may be why they are the ones with messy cabins etc...); others will come from backgrounds where they may have had more responsibility and training, and can bring a lot to the table.

        The attitude of the cadet in understanding their place in pecking order is important, and most older people have a fully developed work ethic and common sense - and genuinely have been there and done that in some dimensions of their lives not because of age, but because of skills and experience they bring; however, a clumsy condescending tone from an officer who also feels the need to convey that they've "been there and done that" can be counterproductive, and the onus is on the training officer to appreciate the difference between an older and younger cadet, and manage the way they come across to get the best out of older cadets, and not undermine them.

        It's all about balance, and skilled officer will understand how to get the best out of cadets; and how different managing a 16-year old and 32-year old and 48-year old can be... without wishing to generalise, that is...
        Emeritus Admin & Founding Member

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        • #5
          Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

          Was just about to post a similar thing!! It would be good if some of the officer cadet training had a bit of people management skills thrown in as well. Seeing as I come from a management background, as well as holding an MCA Boatmasters license it might be that although I will be at the bottom of the pile, 3rd officers might even be able to learn something from me!!

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          • #6
            Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

            I think courses don't really tend to deal with people skills and tend to treat management as a paperchasing game. People skills are to a large extent something you are born with or develop as you grow up - and acquired through life experience!

            The thing about the MN and similar industries is that there is (I think) a paradigm shift going on.
            I think the average age in offshore industries is in the mid-50s, and there has been a kind of generational shift from a largely male and vocationally-trained workforce to a more diverse (in the genuine sense of the word) workforce with people coming to it as a second or third career, and with all kinds of experiences behind them.
            All older cadets should use their accumulated wisdom to understand the role they and the officers have to not crank things up and try to be subtle and tactful about suggestions and grumblings (not saying things that come across as lecturing them on how you'd do it if you were in charge! ...which is like undermining them.) - you may be dealing with someone who can't cope with the concept of managing a cadet with a background they can't relate to - who is also older than them. ...I mean, can you imagine having to train someone older than you with high qualifications in another subject that you don't really know much about? I think it could be tricky... you have to remind them that they are in your world not theirs, and that their achievements, although may have given them useful skills, are maybe largely irrelevant and meaningless in your world of work.

            I think many of the officers you end up being placed with will not have degrees and may be suspicious of people who haven't entered the industry in the traditional ways - e.g. as a school leaver without A-levels (e.g.: maybe they were a failure or a problem in their previous career etc...).
            So waving your degrees and job experience in their face is liable to get their backs up and come out with things like "older cadets think they're a certain age that they're above certain things" and "older cadets think they've seen it all/who is this pip squeak telling them what to do etc." and other such grumblings.
            I'm not suggesting this was meant in a disparaging way, but it could come across that way.

            My own prejudice is that older cadets are more likely to have a good work ethic and be well-motivated and reliable than school leavers, for the simple reason that only the most motivated older cadets are liable to get through the selection process, and have to convince the interviewers that they aren't no hopers, and have done something useful with their lives since leaving school to convince the interviewer that they are a safe bet rather than a no hoper, something that school-leavers don't have to prove.
            I'd be interested to see what the drop out rate and results are across the demographics; but I am very sceptical about a description of "some" older cadets as tending to be prissy, fussy, and snooty etc. - it just doesn't add up.

            The amount of hoops - both visible and invisible - older cadets have to jump through to get on a cadetship, I just can't imagine that once finally on board, they'd suddenly become all uppity and difficult.

            It's maybe possible for older cadets and officers to develop a bit of a rapport if the relationship is handled right with a bit of respect both ways. Talking down to anyone - which is what I think this conversation is really about - is obviously not going to make for a good experience from either side.
            Emeritus Admin & Founding Member

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            • #7
              Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

              As regards my earlier comments, I can only relate with what I've personally witnessed and that I have witnessed problems with a few Older cadets, circa 30 years old who seem to feel that they're beyond many aspects of the Cadet life.
              Yes there are older cadets who have a great work ethic, are mature in mind as well as body, are responsible etc. Most of those I've sailed with view going to sea as their second chance - for whatever reason that may be. A few trips back we had a 28 year old former HGV driver (who bizarrely had a degree in Management) and a 29 year old former Royal Navy Clearance diver, the trip before we had a 30 year old former Computer 'Tech' type who had some kind of degree in Programming - all good lads, two of whom are now qualified. It's very different from the Cadets I shared a class room and a cabin with, I think the oldest in my class was 20.
              As intimated, many of these lads are University Graduates, products of the misguided modern notion that to somehow succeed you MUST go to Uni. They go there, not knowing what they want to do in life, take an irrelevant degree and end up after their 3/4 years with a degree in a subject they have no interest in, disillusioned with the whole process and a large amount of debt. I felt the same pressure to go Uni when in my latter years at Secondary School with the informal idea that not getting a degree meant I would somehow fail in life, however I stuck it out and went to sea aged 17 just after passing my Highers (A Levels).
              Tron mentions that he suspects there might be an element of some young Officer putting an older Cadet down - that would be bullying, and that's never been acceptable from anyone on any ship I've been on. Whether you're 16 or 46, if there is someone else is a position of authority above you then you have to respect that position (note I said the position, not necessarily the man - that's different) and that applies to Cadet/3rd Off relationships as it does Choff/Old Man.
              This works both ways of course, and there is no excuse for being uncivil or condescending to anyone, regardless of what your relative positions are onboard.
              One of the main reasons that there was an 'age limit' if you like on Cadets was the idea that someone between the age of 16-18 will have come straight from a Scholastic environment, hence they will be used to some form of daily discipline, studying, having an authority figure to direct them on a daily basis, wearing a uniform every day etc. The trend for older cadets today isn't so much due to Government legislation but more down to simple 'bums on seats'; there is quite simply not enough people in the industry today and there will not be tomorrow/foreseeable future and so they've been forced to widen the net.
              It is for this same reason that the MN cadetship has been shortened and sea time requirements lowered to only 12 months - in the 1990s you still needed 24 months. Twelve months is the basic STCW requirement, however traditionally the British requirements were well in excess of STCW. Due to sustained pressure from Shipowners and the colleges, this is no longer the case in many areas.
              I would certainly agree that 'man management skills' are something you're either born with and/or have developed over a good many (I emphasise many) years, it's not something you can simply teach on a confined classroom course.
              On most ships Junior Officers by and large do not need to 'manage' people in a personal sense, the nature of their job means they normally only work with either another officer and 1 or 2 ratings. Granted things are different during Drills/Emergencies etc or indeed mooring/cargo ops, but that has little to do with personal management skills and more to do with what is called project management - identifying the problem and using your available resources to solve it efficiently and safely.
              'Teamwork' is a word bandied about very loosely, and whilst it certainly does have relevance it's always interested me that it's a word we use a lot in the Merchant Navy, which is in many ways almost a Military style hierarchy where you either do as you're told or face the consequences!

              "All generalisations are untrue." - a sweeping generalisation if ever there was one!

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              • #8
                Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

                So you're saying that as a junior officer you don'r particularly need management skills....what a load of old tosh!

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                • #9
                  Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

                  Originally posted by Malim Sahib
                  As regards my earlier comments, I can only relate with what I've personally witnessed and that I have witnessed problems with a few Older cadets, circa 30 years old who seem to feel that they're beyond many aspects of the Cadet life.
                  Fine, but the percentage won't be higher than for "younger cadets"; the insinuation that only older cadets are like this seems to not be a balanced representation of the facts. How many younger cadets are we going to generalise about in a negative way?!
                  Originally posted by Malim Sahib
                  their second chance
                  I take issue with this phrase... the insinuation is that people have failed and therefore are attempting to rescue their careers. I'm sure there are plenty who simply want to have a change of direction, and go to sea not as a "second chance", but as a "second change"; and that can be for all sorts of reasons, none of them to do with any kind of "failure".
                  Originally posted by Malim Sahib
                  As intimated, many of these lads are University Graduates, products of the misguided modern notion that to somehow succeed you MUST go to Uni. They go there, not knowing what they want to do in life, take an irrelevant degree and end up after their 3/4 years with a degree in a subject they have no interest in, disillusioned with the whole process and a large amount of debt.
                  Again, I take issue with this remark. I've already raised this idea that yes a lot of people are groomed for uni without genuinely knowing what they're interested in, and starting something later in life makes more sense for most people; but! again, there all kinds of other reasons people end up on a cadetship after being at uni, that do not include having got a degree in something they're not interested in!
                  I certainly didn't plan to spend any time at uni when I was young, and certainly not doing what I've been doing - which was originally only to get on a cadetship... but all sorts of things can affect your voyage through life, and I suppose, it'd be dull if it was all easy and predictable.
                  I do agree that the non-academic route should get equal recognition and that many subjects called degrees are not really degree subjects; and should have a different, but parallel qual... Something I've always said... and I probably would have gone down this route rather than the one I have done had it been available when I was a school leaver.
                  Originally posted by Malim Sahib
                  Tron mentions that he suspects there might be an element of some young Officer putting an older Cadet down - that would be bullying, and that's never been acceptable from anyone on any ship I've been on.
                  I've encountered a young officer essentially bragging about getting a 40-year-old cadet to run around doing x, y, and z for them...

                  Originally posted by Malim Sahib
                  The trend for older cadets today isn't so much due to Government legislation but more down to simple 'bums on seats'; there is quite simply not enough people in the industry today and there will not be tomorrow/foreseeable future and so they've been forced to widen the net.
                  Age-discrimination law is universal... Some shipping companies/sponsors seem not to conceal that they are expecting cadets of a younger age range.

                  Originally posted by Malim Sahib
                  Let's also remember that to gain entry as a Deck Officer 40 years ago was actually a lot harder than it is today - the mathematics alone were of a completely different level to what is today Grade C GCSE. To gain an entry as an Engineer you had to undertake a 4 year apprenticeship in a 'Mechanical' workplace, e,g, as a Fitter/Turner, and only then could you apply to go to sea as usually a 5th Engineer.
                  I will point out that I am not of the previous generation of which I speak, but I have seen some of the old question papers from the 60s and 70s (pre STCW days) in the college archives at South Shields and believe you me the difference is astonishing. With most of these exams the pass mark was 75% and if you failed ONE exam out of the set of five, you then had to retake ALL of them again!
                  Yeah, one of my former lecturers was a regular writer to the papers about the degradation in maths at school - and he could quote chapter and verse of what had been removed. Students in other EU and in developing world countries often are about a couple of years more advanced than British students... we don't do politics on this site, so I'll say no more
                  That exam system you describe is obviously completely preposterous. I hear many British officers still regard the British system as producing superior seamen to foreign ones... :P

                  Originally posted by Malim Sahib
                  I would certainly agree that 'man management skills' are something you're either born with and/or have developed over a good many (I emphasise many) years, it's not something you can simply teach on a confined classroom course.
                  Junior Officers by and large do not need to 'manage' people in a personal sense. Granted things are different during Drills/Emergencies etc, but that has little to do wither personal management skills and more to do with what is called project management - identifying the problem and using your available resources to solve it efficiently and safely.
                  'Teamwork' is a word bandied about very loosely, and whilst it certainly does have relevance it's always interested me that it's a word we use a lot in the Merchant Navy, which is in many ways almost a Military style hierarchy where you either do as you're told or face the consequences!
                  I think the health and safety issues make working at sea a different proposition from the shiny comfy centres office work where terms like "teamwork" are tossed around meaninglessly.
                  At an interview I was successful at, one of the reasons I think I was successful was that I was very forward in stating that I understood the importance of good personnel management - especially when working with different cultures, as you often will at sea. I can't see how you could possibly apply a purely "mechanical" project management approach to a multinational, multiethnic, multireligious crew! Ignoring which warm bodies work well together, and which just rub each other up the wrong way I would have thought was pretty important on long deep sea voyages!

                  Originally posted by Malim Sahib
                  "All generalisations are untrue." - a sweeping generalisation if ever there was one!
                  Yes, that was the idea... it's a paradoxical statement... along the lines of "this statement is false" (which, if it's true, is false; and if it's false, it's true) " " ...right back atcha!
                  Emeritus Admin & Founding Member

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                  • #10
                    Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

                    hear hear!!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

                      Originally posted by Tron
                      Fine, but the percentage won't be higher than for "younger cadets"; the insinuation that only older cadets are like this seems to not be a balanced representation of the facts. How many younger cadets are we going to generalise about in a negative way?!
                      I don't think I insinuated anything, merely commented on what I'd seen personally which I expanded on in my second post.

                      Originally posted by Tron
                      I take issue with this phrase... the insinuation is that people have failed and therefore are attempting to rescue their careers. I'm sure there are plenty who simply want to have a change of direction, and go to sea not as a "second chance", but as a "second change"; and that can be for all sorts of reasons, none of them to do with any kind of "failure".
                      Again I feel I haven't insinuated anywhere that someone has 'failed' at anything. When I say second chance I mean in the sense that whatever they'd be doing beforehand hadn't worked out for whatever reason, hence the career change.
                      I did emphasise "for whatever reason that may be" and left it deliberately vague as it covers all the bases e.g. whether that reason is personal/social/professional.
                      I was at college for an IMDG course a couple of years back and when in the local pub met a cadet there in his 40's who'd been a Fireman. Asked why he felt the need to change from what is a pretty decent job pay/pension wise, his reply was that he was 'living the dream'.
                      Not sure I'd have been brave enough to chuck his old job away and go on Cadets wages for a few years when he had a wife and a couple of kids to look after, but fair play to him for having the balls.

                      Originally posted by Tron
                      Again, I take issue with this remark. I've already raised this idea that yes a lot of people are groomed for uni without genuinely knowing what they're interested in, and starting something later in life makes more sense for most people; but! again, there all kinds of other reasons people end up on a cadetship after being at uni, that do not include having got a degree in something they're not interested in!
                      I'm not sure why you take issue with it, however whilst some of those reasons may not include not being interested, quite a few probably do, again, I refer to my previous comment along the 'for whatever reason" etc.
                      To go off on a tangent, Foundation Degree seems an odd one. An FD cadet I sailed with last year said that at the end of the day you end with the FD qualification which to convert into a proper degree requires a few terms at Uni and a project - which is pretty much how you convert an HND to a Degree.
                      So was the whole thing just a fancy rebranding exercise? Is there any FD people who can expand on the Pros and Cons?

                      Originally posted by Tron
                      I've encountered a young officer essentially bragging about getting a 40-year-old cadet to run around doing x, y, and z for them...
                      So did this lad have the cadet running daft errands or was it deeper than that?
                      If the former then that's pretty much what most people I know put up with as a cadet/apprentice/office boy etc, if it's the latter then as I said I'd see that as bullying, ergo not acceptable.

                      Originally posted by Tron
                      Age-discrimination law is universal... Some shipping companies/sponsors seem not to conceal that they are expecting cadets of a younger age range.
                      As far as I'm aware certain aspects of Age discrimination law are applied selectively to the shipping, as are most UK Statutory Instruments, so I'd need to consult the M notice for definite. As it is, unless you work for the RFA then there's pretty much no chance that you'll come under the full force of said law because it's incredibly rare to work for a company that has both UK flagged ships and where your contract of employment is in the UK. Even the (Government owned) Calmac ferries have foreign contracts.
                      Age discrimination law is relatively new, and most Shipping companies abandoned the 16-18 age limits years before, certainly by the late 90s, however they were obviously targeting that age bracket - just as Uni's and employers do for the most part, regardless of how subtle that targeting tends to be.
                      Let's be honest, if the Government refuse to make the minimum wage and EU Hours of Work regulations apply to UK flagged ships, what chance is there for Age discrimination?

                      Originally posted by Tron
                      Yeah, one of my former lecturers was a regular writer to the papers about the degradation in maths at school - and he could quote chapter and verse of what had been removed. Students in other EU and in developing world countries often are about a couple of years more advanced than British students... we don't do politics on this site, so I'll say no more
                      That exam system you describe is obviously completely preposterous.
                      I think that exam system gives the impression that it demands high standards academically which can only be a good thing, so what precisely is preposterous about that?
                      STCW is an absolute joke and basically brought the standard down to the lowest common denominator - hence why for example the Australians/Canadians/Yanks won't recognise an STCW 95 ticket - if you want to sail on their ships you need to take their own written and oral exams.

                      Originally posted by Tron
                      I think the health and safety issues make working at sea a different proposition from the shiny comfy centres office work where terms like "teamwork" are tossed around meaninglessly.
                      At an interview I was successful at, one of the reasons I think I was successful was that I was very forward in stating that I understood the importance of good personnel management - especially when working with different cultures, as you often will at sea. I can't see how you could possibly apply a purely "mechanical" project management approach to a multinational, multiethnic, multireligious crew! Ignoring which warm bodies work well together, and which just rub each other up the wrong way I would have thought was pretty important on long deep sea voyages!
                      The way I view this issue is that we're all paid to do a job on a ship, therefore we shouldn't need any encouragement or 'management' from anyone to do that job - you either shape up or ship out (see caveat below).
                      I make no distinctions whatsoever regarding sex, race or religion onboard, I expect everyone (including myself) to do the job we're paid to do. However if someone can't do that job for whatever reason and the slack then has to be pulled up by someone else then that is disadvantaging the rest of the crew and those individuals simply shouldn't be there.
                      Let's be quite clear on this, in the days when we had crew of 40-60 men on a 10000grt cargo ship you could quite happily make allowances. Unfortunately when you're on a VLCC with a crew of 20, the simple sad fact is that it's incredibly difficult to make those same allowances because you don't have the manpower.
                      HOWEVER (big however), where good management does come into play is when you want those people to go the extra mile when the proverbial hits the fan.
                      Let's be honest, if you play fair with other individuals, help them out where you can and are polite. courteous, friendly and also reward where appropriate then as far as I'm concerned that's as far as it needs to go. To me that seems fair - 'mechanical' management if you will,
                      Worth remembering is that a good social life onboard is often the key to a happy crew, however the demise of decent ports/runs ashore and Bars/BBQ's onboard mean that (much more fun) avenue isn't open to most.
                      Thankfully with my present outfit (cargo ships), we have 3 separate bars onboard, BBQ's most weekends, Film/Nintendo Wii/Horse racing/Pub Quiz nights most weeks with occasional decent spells in port and ashore; not as much as we'd like but it'll do.
                      We work and socialise together and generally have a very happy bunch of lads - any disagreement during the day is generally absolved over a beer.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

                        Originally posted by steamer
                        So you're saying that as a junior officer you don'r particularly need management skills....what a load of old tosh!
                        I implied that as a Junior Off you don't use "personnel" management skills for the most part. The MN isn't the RN where on a day to day basis you're responsible for the activities and social intricacies of a few dozen men. For example as a 2nd/3rd Off you spend 8 hours of the day on a bridge with 1 or perhaps 2 ratings as your lookouts, but only in the hours of darkness/restricted vis/heavy traffic.
                        You do most of your maintenance on your own and in port you have that same Rating(s) as your duty watchkeeper.
                        On entering/leaving port you are on the bridge with the Master who at that moment is in active control of you and everyone else - you obey his orders. You support him by acting as another pair of eyes and performing your usual bridge duties.
                        Aside from Drills and Mooring/Specialised Cargo Ops for the most part you're working with one (singular) other bloke - does that really require uber specialised management skills?
                        Of course once you slide up the greasy pole to Choff/Master then yes you have to manage a large number of people, but again in reality on a day to day basis much of that is devolved to individuals with the Choff issuing jobs and individuals such as Bosuns/Leading Hands et al getting on with it.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

                          The age issue is one that is of interest to me. I'm only 22 but I'm still older than the typical cadet, and I've been living independently since I turned 18. I have had a successful career in the aviation industry and now looking to make the move into the merchant navy. Now, I've only actually applied and been interviewed by one company so far, so its far from guaranteed that I will be making the move this year.

                          I respect those who are in a position of authority. If my terms of employment state that I must report to or take direction from a particular person, then fair enough. That person is usually deserving of their position based on knowledge and experience.

                          What I take issue with is when authority is misused, or when the person is authority shows no respect for me. This is regardless of age, however such behaviour is most often observed in less mature individuals.

                          Personally, I think a certain amount of work experience should be required for entry into cadetship schemes - even if it's only a few hours a week in a fast food outlet or supermarket. How can young cadets of school-leaving age be expected to know how the working world works? I speak generically here because there are many mature teenagers who would be very well suited to this line of work, and immaturity is not the preserve of the young.

                          If somebody in authority is younger than me then I'm happy with that, as long as they use that authority in a mature and respectful way.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

                            Originally posted by CharlieDelta
                            Personally, I think a certain amount of work experience should be required for entry into cadetship schemes - even if it's only a few hours a week in a fast food outlet or supermarket. How can young cadets of school-leaving age be expected to know how the working world works? I speak generically here because there are many mature teenagers who would be very well suited to this line of work, and immaturity is not the preserve of the young.
                            The idea was precisely that you had lads coming in at 16 or so with no real idea of how the worlds works, therefore they would then be 'moulded' whilst at College and at sea into young officers. I'm not sure if such work experience would benefit them as it'll be vastly different to anything they'll experience at sea as Cadets, indeed much the same would be achieved through the fortnight of Work Experience we all did as 15 year olds.
                            As I mentioned before, the idea was that you took lads straight out of a disciplined, uniformed environment (school) where their daily lives were directed by someone of higher authority who you didn't question - i.e a Teacher.
                            The idea behind the system was very similar to what the likes of the RN/Army etc did/do with their young entrants, except the timeframe was much longer.
                            You have to remember that this mantra goes back hundreds of years where you didn't have cadets, only apprentices (differences in the legalities, cadets only appeared wholescale in the 50s) and they would normally come to sea as 16 year olds, or as young as 12 and spend about 4 years as an apprentice actually onboard ship. In the 20th century this 4 years service was reduced by giving remission through College time - i.e. if you spent 18 months at college, you only needed 2 1/2 years sea time. This remained the same upto 1978 - it still took 4 years to qualify.
                            1978 was the year of the first STCW convention which lowered the Mathematics standards and also the seatime requirement, however individual countries were still allowed to set their own standards (to a certain degree) and also many just kept on doing what they'd done before - just as long as it ticked the right boxes.
                            This remained the same up until the (after ratification of another STCW amendment in the 80s) 1990s where by then you needed a minimum of 18 months seatime (UK standard), however most individuals were still easily getting the full 2 years.
                            The idea was still that you spent much longer at sea actively learning/doing the job than you did in college, this has gone slightly on it's head now with Cadets spending more time in college than at sea, or at least 50/50.
                            The seatime was requirement was officially lowered to 12 months as a result of STCW 95, however the UK System/Colleges didn't finally alter their course for a few years more and eventually gave in to sustained pressure from the UK Chamber of Shipping as there constituent companies were facing a personnel shortage, so they wanted bums on seats ASAP and didn't to spend the money keeping cadets in college any longer than they had to. The above is basically the changes the Deck side went through, the Engineering side was quite a different kettle of fish, as in the past only Chief and 2nd Engineers required a Certificate of Competency - 3rds, 4ths and 5ths did not require Certificates. To gain entry into the MN, a wannabe Engineer had to complete a shoreside 4 year apprenticeship in the likes of a Shipyard/Workshop etc and was then allowed to come straight as a 5th Engineer with no seatime requirement and no exams (except what they'd done as Apprentices). They were then promoted at their Companies discretion to 3/E and to go any higher they had sit for the appropriate certificate. STCW 1978 brought in seatime requirements and for the first time Oral and written exams across the board, although Engineer Cadets (still called Apprentices, but cadets) had existed in minor forms since circa 1960, however the 4 year apprenticeship route was still the favoured method.
                            I've rambled a bit more than I intended to there, but there is quite a lot of history behind why the MN cadetship is as it is, and indeed was. Interesting reading if you ever get the time - there's bound to be loads of books about it in the Nautical College library, or even if you sail with some 'old salts' and get the lowdown from them.
                            I sailed with a bloke in 2001 who'd been at sea (with the same company) since 1952, that being his retirement trip at 65.He'd pretty much seen it all and having a beer and a chinwag with him was a wonderful insight into how things were done and how things have changed.
                            The above is basically things are the way they are today and yes, there are all sorts of alternatives constantly bandied about as to update/replace the Cadetship system, however none have found paritcular favour with either the Maritime Institutions or the companies so far.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Older Cadets vs Those Flying the Nest

                              Well being 21 I will not only be new to the life at sea but am also quite young. Work experience wise I have been deputy manager of a large retail store and hope that my management experience will have some pluses.. however, I would never over guess someone that has spend longer at sea than myself. Even if the other person was "lower on the food chain" I would still respect their experience, as it would be stupid not to.

                              I think it all boils down to intelligence really.
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