AirNZ helps school students’ careers take flight
For the first time this year, Air New Zealand has run a school holiday programme for secondary school students
interested in a career as a flight attendant.
The programme, focussing on the flight attendant role, is run by the Private Training Establishment (PTE) of Air New
Zealand – Air New Zealand Aviation Institute. It has been such a success that enrolments for the next programmes are
already coming in. The PTE is intent on planning more programmes for other careers in the industry such as airport
operations and aircraft engineering.
A group of 18 students from schools in Auckland and further afield such as Invercargill, Tauranga & Rotorua attended the course in April at the Aviation Institute’s Auckland campus. On completion of the three day
programme, students were tested on two unit standards incorporated into the course and if successful, earned five
sector-related NCEA Level 3 credits in the Services Industries.
“The idea was to give students a taste of what work is like in the aviation sector and to introduce them to the skills
they need,” says Hazel Shuttleworth, manager of the PTE. “It provided real insight into the role of a flight attendant.
Students were first instructed and were then put to the task in a mock-up environment. For example, set up trolleys and
run a meal service and to go through emergency procedures as if a flight was in trouble.
“Many don’t realise that for a flight attendant or gate agent role you have to deal with a huge range of people – from
the PM to a tired Mum travelling on her own with kids. You have to be able to ‘read’ a situation very well and respond
appropriately and in a timely way to avoid situations escalating.”
Hazel explains that in a large organisation like Air New Zealand, starting in customer service can be a step-in-the door
and in many cases leads to senior positions.
Safiyah Ali is an example of this. She started her career completing the 17 week Airline Customer Service Programme at
the Aviation Institute’s School of Service which she attended straight from her high school, Zayed College for Girls.
“I thought I wanted to be an early education teacher but my Dad suggested I do this course and ever since then I have
wanted to work in the airline industry. I love airports, every day something different happens.”
On completing the course, Safiyah got a job as a passenger services agent for Menzies Aviation checking in flights for
Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. She joined Air New Zealand last October and is keen to move up the
ranks fast. “I want to stay at Air New Zealand and move up as much as I can,” she says.
Jignasha Patel, General Manager of the Aviation Institute says: “Similar to the school holiday programme we have just
run, we invest time and energy talking to schools, careers advisors and students about different career opportunities in
aviation and tourism, and are keen to show how these often lead to management.
“It is so important for students to start thinking as early as Year 9 and 10 about what they want to do so that they
chose the right subjects. Creating awareness of these roles is essential.
“Like every industry, we have to ensure that we are constantly encouraging young New Zealanders into our sector for a
career, otherwise the pipeline of skilled employees diminishes. We have to show that we offer opportunity and job
“We were delighted with the success and positive response to our holiday programme so we are going to be organising more
Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee said of the project: “This sort of
collaboration between business and education will ensure that school leavers are highly skilled and ‘work ready’.
Relevancy in education is crucial, and can only be achieved when industry are actively involved in supporting curriculum
decisions. We are encouraging businesses and schools to source similar partnerships around the country. Learning happens
both inside and outside of the traditional classroom.”