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Mātauranga me te whakangungu

It takes a lot of skills and training to do the things the Navy does. From medical to engineering, navigation to combat, cooking for hundreds to flying a helicopter, the range of trades in the Navy is diverse.

We need our people to be highly trained in what they do, because they may have to do their job in adverse conditions, at a moment’s notice. At these times, we need experts. We need our people to excel and to be the best they can be.

Our people have to handle some of the most advanced technologies in the world. They are provided with the training, education, tools, and equipment necessary to become fully effective in their field.

Each year we run two 15-week Basic Common Training courses, and two 22-week Junior Officer Common Training courses. Within these intakes, personnel get to grips with Navy culture and get familiar with listening to details, following instructions, and learning how to work as a team. On a ship, no-one works alone. As a team, recruits get used to working quickly, with urgency, in order to complete tasks. They learn basic skills like weapon handling, first aid and drill. This is all part of developing an ability to perform tasks in the most inhospitable environments, under the direction of a leader, and in a team with people they can rely on.

After basic training, personnel move on to become an expert in their chosen field. They undertake specialised training on courses, as well as on the job and through sponsored tertiary study. Sponsored part-time study or full-time study is available as well, notably for engineering officers, who study a Bachelor of Engineering at Auckland or Canterbury universities.

The way that we train our personnel has benefits outside the Navy too. The qualifications our people achieve, plus the life and employment skills they gain, are highly sought after in the civilian world. And the skills, character and resilience that they develop in the Navy will also be valuable to the private and public sectors.

How does a civilian transition into a sailor? It starts with basics.

New recruits may have passed the aptitude tests and have the right qualifications, but after walking into Devonport Naval Base and ‘signing on the line’, the Navy needs to confirm that our recruits are suitable for a career in the military. They need to be sure about the choice they’re making as well.

Basic or recruit training is designed to take a person from civilian to a competent and self-disciplined sailor, while confirming that person’s suitability for life in the Navy. For sailors, this starts with Basic Common Training (BCT), a 15-week course involving around 100 recruits twice a year. Recruits are divided into classes or mess decks of around 15 to 18 persons. Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT) is also two intakes a year, involving around 30 recruits at a time. There is no upper age limit to joining the Navy.

In a controlled environment, recruits learn to develop teamwork and support each other while under stress. They become accustomed to following orders, military discipline, moving with urgency, and they learn self-discipline – including learning how to care for and clean their uniforms. Physically, recruits become fitter and stronger and learn to bond through shared hard work.

As recruits progress through basic training or officer training, they receive more academic tuition and institutional knowledge about the Navy. The recruits develop confidence, self-esteem and self-respect. Drill and parade ground training becomes an important part of military life, because it teaches our people to think and work as a team and complete instructions quickly and correctly. In an emergency, this ‘muscle memory’ and ability to react quickly and without hesitation will come in handy when our people need to respond quickly to superior’s command. It may save their life or the life of a comrade.

A Navy recruit’s core military skills will include weapons training, first aid, navigation, seamanship, and lessons on military law. Recruits are welcomed onto the Navy marae, as part of their journey into their service and being part of a wider Navy whānau.

Both BCT and JOCT training concludes with a formal combined graduation ceremony in front of family and friends.

With a wide range of trades, the Navy offers one of the highest choice of career options and ongoing training of any New Zealand employer.

Recruit training gives our people the basic skills, knowledge and culture of being in the military. But when deployed as a sailor our people have will have a specific role to fill. They are going to be part of an organisation that requires an enormous variety of specialists to function. The days of unskilled labour and limited skillsets are long gone. When our people are upskilled within their trade, they are provided with high quality training and education.

New members of our Navy choose a particular trade prior to starting their career, and that trade will require professional development. Trade training is predominantly done within our Navy, but it may also involve study outside of the military. Navy trades and careers utilise a wide variety of tertiary education paths spanning across university, technology institutions and trade training.

Today, much of the trade training in the military has achieved parity with civilian qualifications, meaning that the training our people complete will earn them the equivalent qualification for civilian life. In some instances, such as the chef and building trades, the qualification undertaken as part of trade training is the civilian industry qualification.

All full time personnel can further upskill using the Voluntary Education Study Assistance programme, which provides financial assistance to undertake part-time study towards a Level 4 or higher qualification on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

At its most basic level, leadership is about behaviour. It's about the building of effective relationships to influence the actions of other people and enable them to contribute to our success in a professional and ethical manner.

People might think that military leadership is clear-cut. But in fact, leadership is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ in the military. There is no single approach or leadership style that fits the Royal New Zealand Navy. Unlike a business leader, our leaders work in a military context, where circumstances can quickly change. There are physical risks, moral challenges and psychological pressures. It means our leaders need to constantly assess the situation and environment so that they can adjust their behaviour appropriately.

From the beginning, everyone in the Navy accepts that they have a responsibility to support their own development. This is known as ‘Lead Self’ in the New Zealand Defence Force Leadership Development system. The system progresses through Lead Teams, Lead Leaders, Lead Systems, Lead Capability, Lead Integrated Capability and Lead Organisation. This system supports the progression and transitioning of our leaders.

Our leadership development is strongly aligned with workplace experiences. Formal education, training and courses all contribute to leadership, and so does coaching, but the development of leaders within the workplace is a strongly-embedded culture within our Navy. Our leaders are stretched and exposed to novel situations. New experiences are a fact of life in the Navy, due to the required posting cycle and rotation of military personnel.

As a person progresses in their career, they embrace the concept of every person in the Navy being a leader, and that leadership development is shared across the organisation.

Our leaders never stop learning, and are constantly developing skills on the job. It's part of our culture that our leaders develop other leaders, because as people progress and change roles, or become promoted, we have to have leaders following in their footsteps.











Instruction & Management

Ready to share skills

Being ready to share skills with the next generation of military people, or utilising skills and knowledge to manage the organisation strategically, is part of career progression in the Royal New Zealand Navy.

As our people progress in their career, the experience gained in both their trade and their leadership will naturally lend itself to roles as an instructor and in management.

The New Zealand Defence College (NZDC) provides the framework for the learning strategy and policy across the Defence Force and ensures that our instructors and learning managers are aligned with the Defence Force education system. Our people hold roles instructing in a wide variety of fields, such as at the Seamanship Training Aid Facility in Devonport, the Institute of Leader Development in Trentham and the Central Flying School at Ohakea. 

The Navy is constantly upgrading to keep up with technology and adapting to international developments. Personnel, as they grow in their careers and achieve seniority, can become managers of teams and projects, using their skills, knowledge and insights to help the NZDF and Navy deliver not only defence capability, but grow as a modern government organisation and employer. Personnel, both in the civilian workforce as well as military, are able to advance their careers in management in the NZDF and Navy just like any other government department.

Considering a career in the Navy?

Together we protect New Zealand’s interests at sea. Our Navy carries out a range of tasks including combat operations, search and rescue, underwater recovery, trade protection and peacekeeping. Whatever the mission, you’ll find that there’s a real tight-knit camaraderie whether you’re at sea, at home or abroad.

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