Cadet­ships learn skills on the slopes

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News -

Mt Ruapehu of­fers a lot more op­por­tu­nity than just a day on the snow.

For lo­cals look­ing for work, the moun­tain of­fers an op­por­tu­nity for on-the-job skills train­ing.

Each year Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), which op­er­ates both Whaka­papa and Tu¯roa ski ar­eas, of­fers cadet­ships to up to 20 peo­ple across all ar­eas of its busi­ness. The 2018 cadet­ship has just fin­ished.

Run in part­ner­ship with the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment, the cadet­ship in­cor­po­rates qual­i­fi­ca­tions from Ser­viceIQ and train­ing, with ac­tiv­i­ties pro­vided by the Out­doors Pur­suit Cen­tre. There is a strong fo­cus on job­seek­ers in and around

hakune and Raetihi for Tu¯roa ski field, and Tau­marunui, Na­tional Park and Tu¯rangi for Whaka­papa.

The pro­gramme was con­ceived five sea­sons ago as part of the Ruapehu Wha¯nau Trans­for­ma­tion Plan to up­skill lo­cals and im­prove em­ploy­ment prospects. Cadet­ships have been open to lo­cal can­di­dates with a con­nec­tion to the lo­cal area and re­ceiv­ing a Work and In­come ben­e­fit.

RAL gen­eral man­ager Whaka­papa Jono Dean says it’s a priv­i­lege for the or­gan­i­sa­tion to be in­volved in help­ing grow their lo­cal com­mu­nity through the pro­gramme.

“Since join­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion in June this year, I’ve been over­whelmed by the qual­ity of lo­cal can­di­dates who have filled the cadet roles through­out our ski area op­er­a­tions.

“Their en­gage­ment with our guests and abil­ity to share the ‘lo­cal sto­ries’ has been of sig­nif­i­cant value to our or­gan­i­sa­tion. The di­ver­sity and fresh think­ing the cadets have de­liv­ered this year has been a true as­set and re­in­forces the value the pro­gramme de­liv­ers to the over­all vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The cadet­ship in­volves a class­room com­po­nent where par­tic­i­pants learn about the ski area, cus­tomer ser­vice and kaiti­aki be­fore mov­ing into full-time roles over win­ter. Pre­vi­ous cadets have re­turned to su­per­vi­sor po­si­tions.

“The ad­van­tage for Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is in re­ally strength­en­ing our con­nec­tion to our lo­cal com­mu­nity. When we’re out hold­ing in­for­ma­tion evenings in the area we re­ally fo­cus on the range of job op­por­tu­ni­ties we have in the busi­ness,” Jono says. “It’s not all about hav­ing to be an amaz­ing skier so you can be a ski in­struc­tor. Not ev­ery­body re­alises that. We need peo­ple to work in field op­er­a­tions on lifts and roads, we need staff in the rentals de­part­ment, as well as food and bev­er­age and cus­tomer re­la­tions.”

Suc­cess­ful cadet­ship ap­pli­cants are given a 17-week place­ment in a front line de­part­ment, de­pend­ing on need. Some may switch be­tween de­part­ments dur­ing the sea­son.

On-the-job skills vary, de­pend­ing on which part of RAL cadets work in, but the over-rid­ing fo­cus is on cus­tomer ser­vice. Lift at­ten­dants also fin­ish with a lift qual­i­fi­ca­tion and food and bev­er­age cadets come out with food safety train­ing.

But it’s not all work and no play. Part of the class­room-based part of the pro­gramme in­cludes a ski or snow­board les­son and fol­low­ing that cadets are given the same ben­e­fits as other RAL em­ploy­ees, which in­cludes a sea­son pass and free group lessons.

They also get to be out on the snow ei­ther in ride breaks or on their days off, de­pend­ing on the de­part­ment they work in.

Terry Cur­ran, re­gional labour mar­ket ad­vi­sor for the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment says the ben­e­fits to the com­mu­nity of the cadet­ship are huge.

“There are ob­vi­ously prag­matic rea­sons to sup­port the cadet­ship in that it helps get peo­ple off the ben­e­fit and saves tax­payer money, but the ben­e­fits to the com­mu­nity go well be­yond.

“It makes a real dif­fer­ence to peo­ple’s lives in terms of more in­tan­gi­ble things like self-worth, and maybe set­ting a good ex­am­ple for other fam­ily mem­bers. And it re­moves a lot of ob­sta­cles for some lo­cals in find­ing work as it in­cludes things like trans­port.”

He adds that he’d like to see knowl­edge of the cadet­ship grow to other re­gions and, as new fea­tures such as the gov­ern­ment backed $25 mil­lion gon­dola come on on­line see cadets re­quired all year round rather than just over the snow sea­son.

Cadet Paige Jones-Hepi from Tu¯rangi says she ap­plied for the cadet­ship pro­gramme af­ter strug­gling to find a job for al­most six months while on the Job Seeker Ben­e­fit through WINZ.

“When my aunt sug­gested to ap­ply for the cadet­ship with Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, af­ter hear­ing about her own ex­pe­ri­ence within the pro­gramme I con­tacted my case man­ager to ap­ply in­stantly.

She says it has given her skills, knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence in cus­tomer ser­vice, fi­nan­cial bud­get­ing and Ma¯ori cul­ture, which was very use­ful when tourists would ask about the his­tory of the moun­tain it­self.

“Not only have I gained many skills but also a whole lot of ex­pe­ri­ence which has then opened my eyes to the pos­si­bil­ity of a long­time fu­ture ca­reer in tourism.”

“Cus­tomer ser­vice is a skill you’ll al­ways need to have no mat­ter the job you’re ap­ply­ing for, em­ploy­ers will al­ways look for po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees that have great cus­tomer­fo­cused skills and ex­pe­ri­ence. Due to the cadet­ship pro­gramme I gained these skills and have al­ready found my­self an­other job for the sum­mer at a wa­ter­park.

Paige says she’s al­ready sug­gested a cadet­ship to friends.

“I highly rec­om­mend this pro­gramme to any­one who is strug­gling to find a job or look­ing to gain use­ful skills and ex­pe­ri­ence for fu­ture ca­reers.”

The Tu¯roa RAL cadet team en­joy some sled­ding. From left: Marie Wairepo, Tay­lor Har­ris, Stacy-Leeah Perkins, Sa­muel Martin, Liana Bid­dle.

Pho­tos / Sup­plied

Paige Jones-Hepi (left) help­ing with ski boot fit­tings in the ski rentals de­part­ment.

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