Whitsunday Sailing Club.
Whitsunday Sailing Club.

‘Change their lives’: Huge jump in maritime training seen

A HUGE increase in inquires at a Whitsunday training facility has seen instructors running back-to-back courses to upskill people and help them change their lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Whitsunday Sailing Club has seen a 70 per cent increase in inquiries about maritime training classes at the Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre since the pandemic began.

Deemed as an educational facility, the training centre has been able to continue classes with lower numbers, appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures and has been “taken by surprise” by the amount of interest it has had.

Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre instructor John Latham said the rise in numbers was “exceptional” and they were almost struggling to meet the demand.

“We’re running back-to-back courses at the moment and a lot of us are here seven days a week because it’s just that busy,” he said.

“People have had the option of wasting their time at home or contributing to their future and they’ve decided to turn to us.”

Mr Latham said it was a wide variety of individuals who had decided to gain maritime training.

Most students have upskilled themselves to be eligible for progression when they return to work, but many had looked to use the training to pivot their career into a new industry.

“We’ve had truck drivers who want out of trucking and are looking at the maritime industry,” he said.

“People are using this as the opportunity to change their lives for the better.

“The maritime and tourism industry is an amazing one to be in and there’s no reason it won’t return just as strong as it once was after this is all over.”

Mr Latham said although the sailing club had closed due to COVID-19, one benefit of the pandemic had been the positive word-of-mouth reputation the training facility had gained.

The Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre has been operating from two training rooms under the sailing club, however there are plans to build a dedicated maritime education centre.

Mr Latham said Airlie Beach was quickly becoming known for top-level marine education, with many students travelling from around Queensland to attend its classes here.

“We’ve got people from Cairns to the Sunshine Coast coming to us – they’ve got to pass a lot of very good training centres to get to us here,” he said.

“We’re on a really positive trajectory as far as the training centre goes, because we can clearly see more people are looking to this region to acquire their training.”