Leg up for rookie instructors

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By CASS MARRETT

NZSki’s looking to Wakatipu High School to help achieve its sustainable workforce strategy.

The rookie instructor training programme’s been operating ‘‘informally’’ for about 10 years,
NZSki customer service general manager and snowsports department lead Fiona Boyer  says, but this season they’ve decided to take it to the next level.

NZSki, owner of Queenstown’s Coronet Peak and The Remarkables skifields, and Mt Hutt, has made the programme more structured this year, designed specifically for the high  school so students can progress through it, without missing school.

After two training weekends in late June and early July, the goal is for the students to secure work as an entry-level instructor during weekends and July school holidays.

After that, Boyer says the students can go through another three weekends of training as part of a level one certification course with the New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance (NZSIA).

‘‘After they hopefully gain this certification … they can continue on with us for the rest of the season through the weekends and then again in the spring school holidays.’’

This year NZSki was looking to fill 1250 positions across all three ski areas.

Last month, the government announced exemptions for 275 experienced workers to enter New Zealand to support businesses operating skifields and snowsports destinations, in roles like sports instructors, ski patrol and safety specialists, snow grooming and snowmaking machinery operators, and ski lift and snowsport technicians.

Last year, recruitment was a battle due to closed borders, leading NZSki, and others, to
work with Ski Areas Association of NZ on a sustainable workforce strategy, which includes entry-level training opportunities, and progression.

Boyer says applications for the 2022 rookie programme opened last week, and spots are filling fast.

‘‘We’re delighted that we’re able to have a lot of our high-end professional instructor trainers coming back through the border as critical workers.

‘‘Students are getting the absolute best experience and the most professional training possible because these people are also examiners with the NZSIA.’’

For the students, it’s about effective communication, professionalism, punctuality and
‘‘particularly engaging well with customers’’, she says.

And while students get experience and a reputable company on their CV at a young age, those who go through the rookie programme often return to work on the mountains, even after leaving for university.

They return with a real appreciation and respect for the environment, professionalism and team culture, Boyer says.

To take part, students must be 16 or over by July 1, an advanced skier or rider, and confident in all terrain and conditions.

Applications close with NZSki on June 20.

cass.marrett@scene.co.nz