Over eighty Interislander crew finish school onboard

08 February 2012 10:10AM

More than eighty Interislander staff graduated with an NCEA qualification last night following an initiative by the ferry operator to help their staff complete their credits.

“I still can’t believe it, I went to work one day with only School C and left with Bursary!” says Amanda Thatcher, a crew member of the Aratere ferry who has worked for the company for six years.  

“I left school at 15, after the death of my mother and never thought I was clever enough to get more than School C.  I am now forty four and not having qualifications has always been in the back of mind and on occasion I have felt self-conscious about it. I am really proud that I did this for myself, and also so I can be a role model for my child and grandchildren that it is never too late to learn!”

Last year Interislander joined forces with Industry Training Organisation, Competenz and launched the initiative to encourage crew members to sign up to gain NCEA credits through prior learning and on the job skills.

“We are extremely happy that around 85 crew signed up and now have school certificate, sixth form certificate, bursary, some with all three,” says Interislander General Manager Thomas Davis.

“A number of staff had not completed these qualifications for various reasons, some dropping out of school at an early age, some saying the school environment wasn’t for them and others simply thinking it was not important to them at the time.”

“While some only needed a few credits to gain the qualification there were some who needed more. Many were very surprised they already had some credits.”

“The end result has been amazing, we have had some staff shedding tears of joy after thinking they would never have the chance to gain the certificates. I am extremely proud of the staff who took part, they showed courage in coming forward to give it a go and dedication in seeing it through.”

“Last night’s event to present the staff with their qualifications was fantastic. Interislander has always encouraged staff to develop their skills, we have a very strong focus on learning and development and have a number of staff who have been with us for a very long time.

“Because this initiative has been so successful we will continue to run it. I hope that more crew are now encouraged to come forward after seeing their colleagues to do so well.”

Mike Clarke from the Maritime Union of New Zealand attended the event and said “This was a very good initiative; we are very pleased that our members in particular have taken up the challenge. We want to thank Interislander for giving these staff the opportunity to upskill, the gaining of these qualifications is another tool in their toolkits.”

Interislander worked with Industry Training Organisation, Competenz to undertake the initiative. Using the recently introduced NZQA literacy and numeracy units that are assessed through naturally occurring evidence, assessors were able to document proof that staff had achieved the compulsory math and English credits required for NCEA Level 1.  They were then able to automatically be awarded the higher NCEA qualifications if they had sufficient credits from previous training.

McGirr Training was contracted by Competenz to carry out the assessments. 

"It was a very exciting opportunity to be one of the first groups ever to award the literacy and numeracy units using the new style of naturally occuring evidence" said Gloria McGirr. 

"It required a lot of documentation and learning how various jobs for the Interislander crew could be used to collect evidence of knowledge.  NZQA was brilliant in the support it gave us to be one of the first groups to trial this new method."

Having worked with crew over the past six months McGirr remarked "It is never too late to complete your schooling.  It's wonderful to hear people say that they no longer feel like a school drop-out or 'dumb'.  Interislander has really supported its staff by offering this opportunity." 


CONTACT: Candice Johanson, Senior Communications Advisor, 04 498 3383 or 021 804 906