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  • Reality Check

    Hello Officers & Cadets,

    So I'm an Officer Cadet's old man with minimal knowledge of the Merchant Navy. Jnr is an aspiring Deck Officer going along the FD / PD route with sponsorship from Zodiac (new start).

    Having read many threads about sponsorship (inc Zodiac) Tonnage Tax & the difficulties faced by Cadets to obtain employment with their sponsoring companies or any company for that matter and qualified Officers not getting a look in because they're a Brit , I have to ask:-

    Is the Cadetship just a money making exercise for the stakeholders with little chance of the cadets getting onto the first rung of the career ladder ?

    Have industry opportunities improved for British Officers, if it's still bad do you see this as temporary; getting better or worse ?

    Do Zodiac take any Cadets on - rough % ?

    Do many companies take on cadets outwith their own sponsorship program ?

    Do shipping companies employ permies or use contractors in the main ?

    Is promotion harder for Brits due to less sea time ?

    Thanks in advance, I know these questions are answered on various other threads but I would really like an up to date reality check.

    Cheers

  • #2
    Firstly: All companies that take on UK cadets (with exception of RFA) are doing it to meet their "tonnage tax" requirements with regards to their UK assets/side of their operation.

    s the Cadetship just a money-making exercise for the stakeholders with little chance of the cadets getting onto the first rung of the career ladder?

    Shipping companies like all companies exist to make money - yes, the majority of companies taking on UK cadets are doing so in order to claim the government tax incentives ("tonnage tax"). Cadets with companies who traditionally keep them on as junior officers are in the best standing when it comes to future employment, however, I do emphasise that NO COMPANY guarantees they will take on their cadets on completion of the cadetship - none of them knows what situation their operation and the industry will be in 3 years down the line. (Any cadet who thinks their company has guaranteed them a job - I suggest you read your terms and conditions closely - you'll be disappointed).

    Have industry opportunities improved for British Officers, if it's still bad do you see this as temporary; getting better or worse?

    We are in a worldwide industry and unfortunately having to compete with seafarers from nations who are able (and willing) to work for much less cash and under conditions, most brits wouldn't (such as working 10-month trips). I wouldn't expect this to change. The traditional staple areas (cruise, off-shore, tankers, yachts) for brits can no longer be relied upon.

    Do many companies take on cadets outwith their own sponsorship program

    Companies who deal with UK cadets will not touch cadets with other sponsoring companies until they have completed their cadetship and obtained their OOW licence.

    Do shipping companies employ permies or use contractors in the main

    Depends on the company - voyage contracts are very much still the norm in parts of the industry (cruise) although there are exceptions.

    Is promotion harder for Brits due to less sea time

    No - the minimum requirements for sea time for each licence level are the same.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    – Mark Twain
    myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

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    • #3
      As Alistair said, but adding for the Zodiac question:

      Zodiac do not employ any of their cadets following qualification sadly.

      Most of the guys I knew with Zodiac enjoyed their time away and got jobs elsewhere when they qualified, but we are engineers who naturally find job hunting easier.

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      • #4
        Thanks Alistair, so it's all a bit of a gamble then - but maybe one that is worth taking; if he doesn't give it a good go he'll never know and he does have youth on his side, cheers.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by agibbs98 View Post
          As Alistair said, but adding for the Zodiac question:

          Zodiac do not employ any of their cadets following qualification sadly.

          Most of the guys I knew with Zodiac enjoyed their time away and got jobs elsewhere when they qualified, but we are engineers who naturally find job hunting easier.
          that was going to be my follow up question, thanks. Pity that

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          • #6
            Since qualifying/job hunting I've really come to think of the cadetship as any other degree.

            There is no guarantee of a job, but your kid will be much more likely to get a job in the sector than say if they had studied art. There are more jobs in marine Vs the number of graduates.

            HOWEVER. There aren't jobs for everyone... mainly because of the tonnage tax you mention above that 'inflates' the job market, making Clyde Marine and the Colleges push hard to fill all spaces and make most profit despite the fact that there isn't a job market for probably about 50% of these cadetships.

            On the the other hand, there are a number of companies that don't hire cadets, but do require qualified sailors. For example CTV/Offshore boats need a few crew and the pay is equal or better than larger ships.

            So there are plenty of opportunities. Looking back I would certainly never give up because of a gloomy job market - it's far gloomier for other degree types. The only downside/issue that I have with the whole education system is that there isn't a general degree at the end of it - plenty other countries offer BSc/MSc in Nautical as standard - that would allow us to easily transfer our learning to other sectors should we wish - but not the case in the UK. It's at least a years study to top up the higher of the two pathways, and then probably another year to get a Masters that employers in the city for example would recognise.


            your kid should go to sea, enjoy the experience and know that 3 years after starting they will be ready to start a career, and a different more mature person to boot. You learn a lot at sea, mainly about people!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sailorj93 View Post
              The only downside/issue that I have with the whole education system is that there isn't a general degree at the end of it - plenty other countries offer BSc/MSc in Nautical as standard - that would allow us to easily transfer our learning to other sectors should we wish - but not the case in the UK. It's at least a years study to top up the higher of the two pathways, and then probably another year to get a Masters that employers in the city for example would recognise.
              I agree with this. A foundation degree or OOW/Mates/Masters ticket means absolutely naff all to people outside the shipping industry. If we got a BSc as in a lot of other countries now do and then on completion of training decided you didn't want to be at sea you could potentially slide onto any number of graduate schemes in different industries without too much trouble. Try doing that with an OOW/FD and see how far you get.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by OCOM View Post
                Thanks Alistair, so it's all a bit of a gamble then - but maybe one that is worth taking; if he doesn't give it a good go he'll never know and he does have youth on his side, cheers.
                He’ll get a job, it’s a low risk gamble. He’ll have a good three years most likely and that’s the most important thing in my eyes, the hard bit is taking on the big bad world as an officer at the end of training! Good luck to him.

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                • #9
                  Is this more of a problem for Deckies or does it apply to Engineers and ETO's as well? I'm currently doing a pre-cadet course but I don't see much point of going on to do a cadetship if I'm just going to join a massive pool of unemployed 'officers' with hundreds competing for one job.

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                  • #10
                    I would say its worse for deck and doubly so in terms of the fact that your skills are less easily transferrable. Engineers and ETOs can transition fairly smoothly into shoreside roles if they want. Not as easy for deck especially straight out of college.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks guys for your words of wisdom. I'm currently trawling through 'Towards A Total Occupation: A Study of UK Merchant Navy Officer Cadetship' a 369 page thesis - although enlightening, it's pretty heavy and a bit depressing in parts :-(

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                      • #12
                        Literally a week away from starting my cadetship and as honest as you need to be with reality checking, you also need to remember that it is a 3 year training course. which in turn means anything can happen.

                        I knew people that choose courses based on the chances of a job, by the end of it they struggled to find one and alot of them now do jobs that has nothing todo with what they studied. In turn i have come to speak a few former cadets and everyone got on differently after it.

                        End if the day life is full of risks, i would rather risk it all on something i wanted to do, then carry on in my managerial role and just tick over for the rest of my life.

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                        • #13
                          In all honesty I would recommend delaying to trying with all. Company that will hire you at the end, coming from somebody who worked his bollocks off through my cadetship both academically and practically on ship, it’s difficult finding that first job I’m still looking. Got 2 interviews but not holding my breath

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                          • #14
                            I did try and hold on but in my mind nothing is guaranteed in 3 years, especially with brexit around the corner, who actually knows what will happen

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                            • #15
                              I was worried about getting a job when I was going through my cadetship. However, everyone in my intake in 2017 that got their COC now all have jobs. Good ones at that.

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