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New skydiving diploma another world first for NZ

October 7 2008

Media release

New skydiving diploma another world first for New Zealand

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New Zealand Skydiving School has created another world first with the introduction of a Diploma in Advanced Skydiving, a qualification designed to train skydivers to take tandem passengers.

"Everyone dreams of making a career out of an activity they feel passionate about and we want to ensure that skydivers are well qualified and take advantage of all the exciting opportunities worldwide," says New Zealand Skydiving School chief executive Kirsty Smith.

Kirsty and husband Steve's Queenstown and Rotorua dropzones last year won New Zealand Tourism's supreme award and a Wanaka based dropzone this year took out the small business award. The New Zealand Skydiving School is based in Methven near Christchurch.

"Young people can not only turn their passion into a viable career but also follow a structured career path. There is a huge demand for qualified skydivers overseas and here in New Zealand," says Kirsty Smith.

Nearly all (96%) of the New Zealand Skydiving School graduates found work within the industry after completing their qualifications.

Graduates have also been highly successful at international competitions with former student Leigh Ainsworth named 11th in the world at the recent World Skydiving Championships in France. Leigh completed her Diploma in Skydiving at the Methven-based school in 2001 and travelled with another former student Rhys Kempon who was her camera person during her jump.

"Adventure tourism and tandem diving, in particular, have grown significantly in its popularity over the past few years, which has resulted in a skills shortage in qualified staff within the industry," says Kirsty.

New Zealand takes the most tandem passengers of any other country in the world except the United States and does 75,000 tandem jumps a year.

The New Zealand Skydiving School has already attracted international attention and recognition with the development of its Diploma in Commercial Skydiving, says Kirsty Smith.

New Zealand is recognised as a world leader in the international skydiving industry, she says.

Half the school's students are from overseas and Spain, the United States, Canada and Australia all participate in work placements as part of the Diploma in Commercial Skydiving.

"We receive calls from all around the world looking for our students to work at overseas dropzones. They are also sought after employees in New Zealand," says Kirsty.

Many operators, she says, are reluctant to dedicate time to train their own staff and there is also a continuing trend of losing the wealth of knowledge and experience of experienced skydivers as they burn out and leave the industry, she says.

The New Zealand Skydiving School was established seven years ago and recently added the Diploma in Advanced Skydiving which provides an increased level of skydiving skills including tandem and jumpmaster ratings. The majority of students complete the Diploma in Commercial Skydiving before taking on the advanced qualification.

"The qualified skydivers who leave the New Zealand Skydiving School get work internationally and this is the key to developing the skydiving industry both here and overseas."

The diplomas have also been approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority so Government subsidies and funding are available.

For more information about the New Zealand Skydiving School visit or telephone 03 302 9143.


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