As part of the hands-on approach to NMIT’s New Zealand Certificate in Tourism programme, students have been soaking up real-life experience during their Certificate learning, and now many are taking up part or full-time jobs offered by tourist operators.
For Certificate graduate Nathaniel Tapnio, a career in the tourism industry couldn’t have started better, working in the Nelson-Tasman i-Site visitor centre. A second graduate, Addie Lowe is working for Abel Tasman Centre, based at Kaiteriteri.
They are two of the 20 or more graduates from the 2016 Tourism Certificate who have jobs. Programme coordinator Katrina Marwick says 95 per cent of graduates have been employed.
“I’m proud of our students who are from a range of cultural backgrounds and ages, from school leavers to those nearing retirement, many have children, come with rich life and work experiences from across all industries. The mix is hugely beneficial for the students as they learn from each other build meaning friendships.”
She says the students are out of the classroom soon after starting their study. For example, the last intake had experience of guiding “real” tourists at Nelson’s Brook Sanctuary and conducted a tourism survey at Nelson airport.
Nathaniel Tapnio took his opportunity to do work experience at Nelson’s i-Site and that has led to a full-time job over summer.
“I’ve been able to apply the practical skills we’ve learned at NMIT. I can see what people actually do on the job and also the technology part. Learning to do the bookings has been straight forward after the training we’ve had during the Certificate.”
Nathaniel’s ability to hit the ground running has impressed i-Site manager Dorothy Riley. “Excellent,” she says of Nathaniel’s ability to apply his training to actual work at the centre.
Dorothy says critical parts of the job are customer service and proficiency with the booking system. Having a knowledge of the local area as well as New Zealand as a whole are also useful, she says.
Customer relationships are crucial, she says. ” Knowing how to question appropriately is a big thing and being able to catch on to what the customer may or may not be saying. You can teach the basics but skills come with a lot of practice. The i-Site manager says another important skill is producing professional email replies to clients.
NMIT’s tourism programme co-ordinator Katrina Marwick says the programme works closely with people like i-Site to develop practical teaching that evolves with industry needs. “For instance there are changing needs and the need for more training around sustainability – looking after the golden goose. There’s so much more pressure now on infrastructure and the environment and our students need to be aware of these factors."
Katrina has recently met with industry people to hear feedback on the qualities they seek in new staff.
Mark Rawson, the new chief executive of the merged Nelson Tasman Tourism and the Economic Development Agency, sees a tremendous future for the local tourism industry – translating to more demand for qualified employees.
He says the 2017 tourism season looks like breaking new records, and that will be boosted by increasing tourist traffic diverted away from the east coast because of the Kaikoura earthquakes and the subsequent road closures.
“We won’t know exactly what impact that will have until around mid-January. Regardless of the earthquake impacts, however, this season was always going to be very strong for the tourism industry.”
Mr Rawson says he’s seeking to develop more tourist connections with the West Coast and the East Coast, with Nelson as the top of the south hub. New opportunities through increased airline connections will help make that possible, he says.
Katrina Marwick says it all adds up to a bright future for tourism graduates from NMIT who will be able to offer employers work-ready skills.
Graduate Addie Lowe says the certificate programme “was great for me in helping build my confidence in customer service. It was also great to work and speak with people from different cultures as in my job at the Abel Tasman centre I deal with many people from different countries and this gave me an insight into speaking to customers who have difficulty speaking English.”
Fellow graduate Nathaniel Tapnio is excited about a career in tourism, probably based around marketing, and is deciding whether to work full-time in 2017 or return to NMIT to take up a marketing degree.
Nathaniel came to New Zealand in 2010 with his family from the Philippines and attended Nelson College before enrolling in the Tourism Certificate. What part of the course did he get most from?
”I guess I got the most out of being able to go out to industry through the programme to apply the study lessons.
“The people part has been helpful, the real-life training at NMIT, like taking people to the Brook Sanctuary was a real learning experience, learning about customer relationships,” says Nathaniel.