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HIGH SCHOOL students from Proserpine State High, St Catherine’s Catholic College and Bowen State High attended the Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre on Friday, February 3.

They were there to begin the practical competencies of the Shipboard Safety Skill Set, which form part of the Coxswain Grade One qualification.

Students undertake the qualification through the Vocation Education and Training in Schools Program (VETiS) funded by the Queensland Government, and classes will be held every Friday, for 12 months.

VET courses allow students to acquire nationally recognised qualifications, to give students the knowledge and skills they need to work in a particular industry.

Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre is partnering with Red Cat Adventures, who will train students on their vessels to get their sea time hours.

This is the first year Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre has undertaken the course, in the hopes that it will produce local, qualified skippers for businesses in the area to employ.

Red Cat Adventures owner Asher Telford was growing frustrated with the shortage of qualified workers in the Whitsundays.

“We’re actually training kids up and it’s being written into their curriculum – by the time they finish at the end of the year they’ll end up with a full coxswain’s ticket, which is amazing for this industry and area,” Mr Telford said.

“The biggest problem we’ve got within the industry is people moving to town and they can’t find accommodation so, if we’re training up our own local kids to work in our industry, which has a massive shortage of workers, that’s ideal.”

The school students were taken through the practical drills on the foreshore, at Whitsunday Sailing Club, including basic survival skills in the event of vessel abandonment, like how to safely let off a flare.

With the Coxswain Licence, students will be able to command and operate a vessel under 12m long, carrying passengers with propulsion power.

Proserpine State High School student Tayla Ziviani is determined to go into marine biology after completing high school and has spent her whole life on boats with her parents.

“I am definitely learning new things, but the overall experience is familiar,” Miss Ziviani said.

“I really hope to do a lot of water work, like counting all the animals and sending back information.

“If I was to be qualified to drive a boat while I’m out there, I would be able to go out and take the counts and not have to rely on constantly asking other people to help me along.”

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