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Local business wins Education New Zealand award

Media Release

Local business wins Education New Zealand award

A pilot project to allow international students to work in New Zealand as part of their vocational training has won a Canterbury education provider recognition from peers at the Education New Zealand conference.

The National Trade Academy won the Innovation in International Programme award for its work with Immigration New Zealand to trial a Study to Work Visa pilot.

NTA Managing Director Craig Musson, a member of Education Christchurch & Canterbury, was delighted to receive the award after years of trying to facilitate work experience for international students.

The privately owned NTA was set up in 2000 to provide education and training for land-based and trade industries; and international courses in agriculture and equine-related fields.

Over the past few years, NTA has participated in a trade mission to Chile to investigate training opportunities and scoping visits to Uruguay, Argentina, Malaysia and China, (all with the assistance of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise), which has opened up new opportunities for the company.

“Most of our students are New Zealanders, but we could see there was a market in the international students coming to work on farms and not getting any training. Some of them were from backgrounds where they might milk 15 to 20 cows at home, and then going to New Zealand farms they were milking 1000. Plus there were points of health and safety and cultural issues they needed to know,” Craig says.

Skills taught at NTA include English language, vehicle and machinery safety, fencing, animal handling, pasture management and general information about what you can expect to find on a New Zealand farm.

Currently these students enter New Zealand on visitor permits and then apply for a working visa. The pilot project now being set up with Immigration New Zealand, the New Zealand Embassy in Chile and the Chilean Government will allow a smoother pathway for students to gain work experience for one to two years.

Education Christchurch & Canterbury Manager Trish Leddy says NTA’s work with Immigration New Zealand could also be useful for other education providers in the region.

“If we can encourage an all-in-one Visa, these international students will stay longer to get work experience. They’re contributing to the local economy and it helps Canterbury while we have skilled staff shortages in particular areas,” Mrs Leddy says.

NTA has been part of the Canterbury Development Corporation initiative Education Christchurch & Canterbury for about three years and Craig says the learning and networking he’s engaged in by being part of this group has been invaluable for his business.

Currently part of CDC’s Accelerated Business Growth Programme, Craig is keen to see more New Zealand expertise exported worldwide.

“Our focus is on training students so other countries get up to speed with our techniques. Then we use employment consultants if the students want to stay and work. And that’s an added benefit for local farm, where there’s a shortage of labour,” he says.

Two groups of Chilean students have now been through NTA courses, a third group starts in September and a large group in October. Two groups from Uruguay are booked to come to Christchurch next year and there’s also interest from Brazil.

“Each time we get a market going, we’re looking at our next market – there’s quite a few countries that have a synergy with what we’re doing. And it’s nice to have our work recognised with this award,” Craig says.


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