PONI Divers is set to introduce a wider range of professional courses for certified divers in a bid to train more locals to take up diving careers.
General manager Wong Thye Sing said his company will soon embark on a “huge step” towards offering more instructor development and distinctive specialty courses under the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).
“These are all courses that teach people how to work underwater. We’re not just in recreational diving, but also in professional diving,” he said.
Starting next year, Poni Divers will be the first dive centre in Southeast Asia to come out with courses such as underwater media as well as scientific diving techniques, which will teach divers how to use scientific research techniques underwater.
The basic archaeological diver course, involving the excavation of an underwater site in compliance with local and international laws, will also be made available.
“There is a bigger emphasis on how to work underwater, how to create a project plan, how to consider the safety hazards and how to have a safety plan. More than half of the course content will be about these aspects,” said the general manager.
He anticipated a demand from higher education institutions in Brunei to run these courses, which are taught in universities in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Poni Divers was rated a five-star instructor development centre by PADI in November, enabling the company to offer instructor level training and continuing education opportunities to dive professionals.
As a full-fledged instructor development centre, Wong said his company is looking to hold the instructor level training at least once or twice a year.
Their instructor development courses were previously conducted in partnership with Malaysia’s Seamonkey Dive Centre. Since 2014, a total of 20 dive instructors, including five Bruneians, have been trained by Poni Divers.
As professional courses typically involve more time and effort, the general manager hoped it would draw in more tourists to visit Brunei over a longer period.
“Before this, divers would come for a few days for recreational diving. With the courses, divers can expect to stay between 14 days for the instructor development course to six months for the ‘Zero to Hero’ programme,” he said.
With more foreigners choosing the sultanate as a dive destination, he added it would boost the country’s tourism industry.
“We plan to offer commercial diving courses as well here. This is a larger endeavour and we are still in the early stages of discussion. If we’re able to offer local training, that would be a big step for us. We hope that we can get there,” said Wong.
He said commercial diving courses, which are health and safety accredited, are in line with the government’s objective of training local talent in the oil and gas industry.
The Brunei Times