In 2016, when Kevin Anderson, State MP for Tamworth, wanted to get his coxswain qualifications, he chose Port Macquarie TAFE over all other comparable providers.
By day, he was the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads, Maritime and Transport, and on the nights and weekends when he wasn’t attending functions, he was studying a Certificate II in Maritime Operations.
“When I decided to undertake a Grade 1 Coxswain certification, I researched providers and locations extensively but ultimately kept landing on TAFE because of the flexible learning approach,” he said.
“I am a passionate advocate of TAFE in my own electorate of Tamworth, so it was great to link with Port Macquarie and benefit from TAFE’s flexibility and professionalism.”
Kevin Anderson may be the state member of parliament for Tamworth now, but he hasn’t always lived west of the ranges.
“I grew up on boats - my dad was a professional fisherman,” he said.
“I came to Tamworth in the early 90’s for work, and stayed. I had all this knowledge about boats - but I never became qualified. I have friends who drive charter boats and they would tell me that if I could just get my ticket, I could be the one driving – so I finally decided to take the plunge back into study.”
Returning to study as a mature age student can be daunting for anyone, but Kevin found that the benefits of going back to school extended beyond just the gaining of a qualification.
“The best part was kicking my brain back into gear to study and getting back into the classroom, because it had been many years since I had studied. I do a lot of reading for my work, but I enjoyed the challenge of learning and retaining the information for exams.”
Fitting in study around work is always a major challenge for any working person, especially for a member of parliament, but TAFE’s flexibility of delivery simplified matters considerably.
“Following positive discussions with Geoff Shelton, Head Teacher for Maritime at Port Macquarie, we were able to design a training plan and timetable so that I could squeeze it all in around my work commitments. I was able to combine distance study with on campus tutorials and practicals, which was great.”
Kevin has high praise for the teaching staff at the Port Macquarie campus.
“I am really grateful to Geoff, Rod and Damien for helping me out - The effort they went to make the course flexible was outstanding. I also wanted to keep a low profile during my study – I wanted to be at TAFE as just Kevin Anderson student, not Kevin Anderson MP.”
After spending the whole year balancing work, family and study commitments, Kevin Anderson is now a qualified Coxswain.
“Now that I have finally got my ticket, If the opportunity arises, I can drive a charter boat on my next holiday - and I’m even thinking about doing my Masters 5 (Certificate III in Maritime Operations).”
Anyone who is interested in updating their boating qualifications or embarking on a career in the maritime industry can contact TAFE on 1300 628 233 or visit www.northcoasttafe.edu.au