Working with the World Bank and the Maldives Government, a new generation of PADI Pros are being trained in the Maldives! The goal of this innovative program is to support local people to acquire employable skills and find long term professional success in the scuba diving industry. PADI and our members are proud to be working with the World Bank and the Maldives Government to provide career opportunities for local people.
The initiative has been a booming success. To date, over 943 certifications have been achieved at local dive centres – including 189 PADI Divemasters and 94 PADI OWSIs.
The Government Initiative
The World Bank provided the Maldives Government with a grant to fund the training of Maldivian locals in their career development. Two training sectors were targeted; scuba diving and accounting, providing locals with two dramatically different routes to post-pandemic career success.
Tourism is at the forefront of the Maldivian economy “providing for more than 28% of GDP and 60% of foreign exchange” explains Adam Ashraf, PADI Course Director. Therefore, selecting this sector for improvement was a clear-cut way for both the government and locals to succeed.
Undoubtedly, diving is a pillar of the Maldivian tourism industry, yet many locals “have faced challenges in progressing forward professionally, primarily due to the cost involved” according to H.E Minister Fayyaz Ismail, Maldives Minister of Economic Development. He continued that as a result of the PADI Pros initiative, the “program ensures to give [an] opportunity to those who are inspired and seeking growth in this sector”.
In terms of diving, non-divers were encouraged to apply to be funded from their Open Water right through to their Divemaster certification. Alongside funding for those who are already PADI Pros as Divemasters, to ascend to become Open Water Scuba Instructors.
The Maldives initiative hits close to home, supporting PADI Pillar of change #3: People & Humanity. The main focus here is to foster diversity and inclusion in the dive industry and support local communities
PADI EMEA Territory Director, Rich Somerset and Regional Manager, Matt Wenger, met with the ministry of trade in the Maldives, armed with a proposal detailing the costs of training from PADI. This included both the Open Water-Divemaster route, and the Divemaster-OWSI route. As a result, the government granted funds for up to 400 individuals to complete the dive training and become PADI Pros!
The Enrollment Process
After applications came in, the Maldivian Government reached out to successful candidates individually to begin their courses. Additionally, the government provided funds to cover extra costs such as accommodation and travel to the islands for their training.
For dive centres involved, the PADI products were rolled out on a 45-day account. Therefore the funds could be secured from the government without pressure.
Changing Lives, One Certification at a Time
At the core of this initiative, The World Bank, the Maldivian Government and PADI aimed to change the lives of local individuals. It’s safe to say candidates who have completed the program have achieved immense success so far and are hopeful to progress with their careers in diving.
Several candidates who completed the program shared their experiences below.
Adam Hiyad, OWSI 443779
Adam completed his Divemaster certification before the pandemic. Next, he hoped to be able to save up for several years to complete his IDC. Thanks to the government initiative, he got a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of fully funded instructor course so [he] applied and got selected. The IDC was an unforgettable chapter in [his] life with amazing people”.
Above all, Adam’s life has changed after becoming a PADI Professional; “My PADI journey sparked an interest in marine conservation and whatever I do in my dive career will always involve a component of advocating for saving the ocean. He’s confident that “If [he] can become a dive instructor, then anyone can“!
Mohamed Mizyan Hassan, OWSI 425842
As a freelancer, Mohamed struggled through the COVID lockdown. Thanks to the government initiative, he was able to complete his IDC! Now, Mohamed feels strongly about individual efforts needed to help save the planet. When asked how becoming a PADI Professional changed his life, Mohamed shared that “even though an individual effort might be little, it still matters. I can now pass on to the next generation about the importance of protecting what we have and how our individual efforts matter to help bring change.”
Mohamed is passionate about others becoming PADI Professionals. His advice for others considering this route is that “the opportunities are endless if you are an ocean enthusiast”!
Mohamed Ahmed, OWSI 522840
Becoming PADI Professionals helped candidates get back on their feet and has inspired further success in the diving industry. After the “rewarding experience”, candidate Mohamed Ahmed has plans to “work hard to become a staff instructor“.
Ensuring Longterm Success
As a result of the initiative, candidates have clearly had a lasting spark of passion ignited. Firstly, for their personal development as PADI Pros. And secondly, for the long-term success of the industry and preservation of the oceans.
Becoming a PADI Pro has changed the lives of many individuals in the Maldives. Mohamed Mizyan Hassan, new OWSI, detailed that becoming a PADI Pro “opened [his] eyes to the environmental issues that we are facing and the probability of the issues that we might face in the future”. He’s now committed to “pass[ing] on to the next generation about the importance of protecting what we have and how our individual efforts matter to help bring change”.
Going forward, PADI Regional Manager, Matt Wenger, who has been instrumental to the success of this unique program, will continue to work with the Maldives Government and the World Bank with the aim of securing funding to continue the initiative into 2023.
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