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James makes waves in the tourism industry

Training and skills case study

When James Murphy returned to study as a mature age student, he knew he wanted to stay close to the ocean and help the environment.

Now a skipper and the owner of an eco-tourism company in Port Phillip Bay, he gets to do both.

James Murphy case study

“I started with a Certificate IV in Business (Sales) and then went on to do a Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Business,” explains James.

Although he had jumped into a degree in ecology and sustainability after high school, James never completed the course. TAFE provided him with a practical pathway to resume his education later, laying the foundation for future business ventures.

Today, James heads up the team at Sea All Dolphin Swims, a tourism enterprise offering close-up snorkel experiences with wild fur seals and dolphins.

“I also run a surf school and I’m the founder of Southern Ocean Environmental Link, which is a registered non-profit aimed at improving the health of the ocean through education and conservation,” says James.

It’s through this work that James has begun to pay it forward to others looking for their start in the tourism industry.

“We’ve done a lot of workplace experience for TAFE students out on the boat,” says James.

“We find that people with a hospitality or retail background often have an advantage because they’ve learned how to communicate and talk to people.”

For James, sharing that interaction with others is by far the best part of working in tourism. In an industry that thrives on creating experiences, people skills are definitely important.

To those looking at starting their career in tourism, James says it can be an incredibly fun and rewarding path.  

James Murphy case study

“I think there is going to be demand in the service and tourism industry for years to come,” he says.

“AI is changing the face of the office but at the end of the day, a computer won't be able to hold your hand and empower you to set foot into the ocean for the first time.”

To get started, James recommends looking into qualifications that will help you stand out in a particular interest area.

"There’s a niche group of qualifications applicable to a lot of our jobs,” he explains.

“Look at the position you’re considering, go get something like a diving certificate or coxswain qualification, then work your way up.”