Banks’ recognising accredited field guiding courses – agri

The big four South African banks will now provide loans for students wanting to complete a Field Guiding Association of South Africa (FGASA) certified course. These courses provide the minimum qualifications for people aiming to pursue a career as professional safari field guides. The move is welcome news for the country's game reserves as there …

The big four South African banks will now

provide loans for students wanting to complete a Field Guiding Association of

South Africa (FGASA) certified course.

These courses provide the minimum

qualifications for people aiming to pursue a career as professional safari field

guides.

The move is welcome news for the country's game reserves as there is

a dearth of qualified South African field guides.

“We're told time and again

that overseas visitors want South African guides, but until now the vast

majority of applications we've had for our courses are from international

students. In fact this year interest from international students is up 50%,” says Rachel Greenwood, marketing manager for Bushwise, which runs one of the

country's most respected guiding courses.

“We hope that with the banks now

recognising field guiding as a legitimate qualification offering good prospects

both here and abroad, it will encourage more South Africans to consider it as a

career.”

At the same time the industry is concerned that new visa regulations

may discourage prospective foreign guides form wanting to gain qualifications in

South Africa.

Bushwise's 23-week FGASA training course gives graduates a

level 1 professional qualification, covering everything from first aid and

advanced weapon handling to specialist birding and reptile orientation.

Graduates are qualified to guide amongst dangerous game. It also offers an

optional six-month work placement at one of South Africa's leading safari lodges

or predator centres.

The 23 week course costs R104 950 or R109 950 for the

50 weeks which includes work experience. To encourage South African applications

it offers a R10 000 discount for local students who sign up six months in

advance.

“Access to student loans should make the courses much more

accessible to local students wanting a career in the safari and hospitality

sector,” says Greenwood. “It will also challenge perceptions that safari guiding

is a menial job, when it can be hugely rewarding and for many of our students is

the first step to a career in lodge and hospitality management.”

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