New qualifications for the alpine and avalanche industry

New snow qualifications hit the slopes

New snow qualifications hit the slopes

New qualifications for the alpine and avalanche industry hit the production line today, ready to deliver an agile, on-job learning experience for mountain professionals this winter.

At the Southern Hemisphere Alpine Conference in Christchurch today, Skills Active, the industry training organisation for outdoor recreation and snowsport, officially launched the new NZ Certificate in Outdoor Leadership with Alpine strand (Levels 5 and 6), and the NZ Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Levels 5 and 6).

The Alpine qualifications cover a range of skills including managing, instructing and leading mountaineering trips, managing dynamic risks, and working in multi-hazard environments. The Level 6 programme also equips graduates to educate alpine instructors, and instruct/guide in more technical alpine terrain.

The Avalanche qualifications cover avalanche search and rescue skills, risk mitigation, and identifying avalanche hazards through knowledge of snowpack, weather, terrain and avalanche phenomena.

A limited credit programme, Avalanche Risk Management (Level 5) Backcountry, is also available. For learners developing alpine skills, this short award delivers an understanding of avalanche mechanisms and strategies to avoid avalanche-prone terrain. It offers ski fields, and other organisations working in snow environments, the ability to train staff in safe work and recreational practices in backcountry areas.

“The new qualifications could not have been developed without the significant input and deep expertise of our key industry partners, including the Mountain Safety Council (MSC), NZ Outdoor Instructors Association (NZOIA), and NZ Mountain Guides Association (NZMGA),” says Skills Active CEO Grant Davidson.

Davidson notes that graduates of the NZOIA Alpine 1 qualification will earn equivalency with the NZ Certificate in Alpine Level 5, and NZOIA Alpine 2 graduates will have equivalency with the NZ Certificate in Alpine Level 6.

NZOIA chair Gill Wratt says it is pleasing to see the NZ Certificate qualification closely aligned with the existing NZOIA awards that have been developed by outdoor instructors working in the sector over a period of more than 30 years. The suite of qualifications now available offers a high standard of professionalism, as well as the opportunity for trainees to now earn a New Zealand Certificate.

MSC chief executive Mike Daisley says the inclusion of the Alpine qualification in the Skills Active framework is a positive step for the sector.

“We were pleased to be part of the discussion with Skills Active about this qualification. We added our insights and overall perspective to alpine safety, which is especially pertinent for the Southern Hemisphere Alpine Conference today.

“It’s great to see this come to fruition and I’m sure the qualification will be well received by the community,” Daisley says.

Along with NZOIA and MSC, the Alpine qualifications also have the endorsement of NZMGA, and offer a ‘feeder pathway’ to those wanting to train towards the high guiding qualifications offered by NZMGA, Davidson says.

“All of the new qualifications have evolved through in-depth collaboration, meaning they have strong buy-in from the industry, and offer relevant, work-ready upskilling,” he says. “We are excited to be able to introduce these essential qualifications in time for the industry’s key event of 2017.”

A new home for avalanche credentials

Davidson adds that Skills Active is also using the conference to share information about NZRRP, its free online professional register for the sport and recreation industry, including avalanche practitioners and instructors.

“With NZRRP, avalanche staff can ensure their skills are current, and promote their credentials to the public. The public can use this tool and be assured they are placing themselves in the hands of highly-qualified mountain professionals.”

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