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Pilot opportunity for tourism sector to train, retain and regain staff launched.

A pilot programme, developed by Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, Queenstown Resort College and Ministry of Social Development (MSD), aims to keep people in tourism jobs impacted by COVID-19 while giving them new training opportunities.

The programme ‘Train, Retain and Regain 2021’ will be piloted in Queenstown Lakes, Te Anau and the Mackenzie District to help employers keep core staff, providing them with an opportunity to reskill in other areas of the business and gain a qualification in an area they are keen to pursue that is of value to the business.

The pilot runs over 26 weeks on a part-time basis so participants can continue to work, including at peak tourist times. Queenstown Resort College will administer and deliver the programme at its Queenstown campus. MSD funding will support up to 140 workers (110 full-time employed and 30 part-time employed) to participate.

Queenstown Chamber Chief Executive Ruth Stokes says, “It’s fantastic that we are able to offer a local solution to our businesses that enables them to retain and build capability, with the confidence of MSD support for the next six months.”

“Even with the confirmation of a trans-Tasman travel bubble, the nature of COVID means we will be living with business uncertainty for some time to come. In that environment it is critical to provide businesses with a programme they can rely on for six months, delivered by a partner they know and trust, that will work with them to build capability and is flexible to accommodate changing business demands”.

Queenstown Resort College Chief Executive Charlie Phillips says he’s thrilled the college can support the region in this way.


“MSD and Chambers have worked hand-in-hand with us to make this a reality. We are committed to the tourism and hospitality sector and we are really pleased we have been successful in putting together what we believe is a programme that will make a very real and positive contribution to local businesses in 2021,” he says.

MSD Director Industry Partnerships Amanda Nicolle says the programme has been designed to help keep people employed and also upskill, gaining industry qualifications that will be valuable to the employees, employers and the sector as a whole.

“MSD recognises the ongoing impact of border closures, and the impact that losing jobs and letting staff go has had on these businesses and their staff. We hope this pilot programme will be a welcome support for Queenstown, the Mackenzie district and Te Anau, and increase the ability of New Zealanders to take on more skilled roles that employers might normally have to look overseas to fill,” she says.

To participate, employers nominate eligible employees (either NZ citizens or permanent residents for the funded pilot programme. Applications open from 15th April and the pilot begins on 3rd May. Further details on the enrolment and pre-registration process will be communicated via The Queenstown Chamber of Commerce and Destination Queenstown.