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Winds of Change Have Hit Canterbury Education

PRESS RELEASE: VOCATIONAL PATHWAYS, supporting young people to get qualifications they need

Winds of Change Have Hit Canterbury Education

A significant change in education is taking place in Canterbury.

Canterbury Tertiary College, the local Trades Academy and part of CPIT, Christchurch Polytech, is providing hands on training for students in a range of sectors while they’re still at secondary school. The training gives them vital skills to enable them to successfully transition from school to employment or fulltime tertiary study.

Students can also earn credits from the training toward their NCEA Levels 2 and 3 and if sufficient credits are earned, they are awarded a Vocational Pathway. This shows that a student has linked their study to a particular sector and is on a ‘pathway’ to further study or employment in that industry. For example, students who have completed a course in early childhood education or in nursing can earn a ‘Social and Community Services’ Vocational Pathway Award.

Emma Meijer, Manager of Youth Transitions at CPIT, says the introduction of Trades Academies and tertiary-secondary partnerships is “a milestone in education for the whole of the country.”

The Network which Canterbury Tertiary College is the lead provider for with four tertiary organisations and 34 secondary schools, is part of the government’s initiative called Youth Guarantee which provides 16-19 year olds with more opportunities to study towards achieving NCEA Level 2, through programmes that make sense to them and have a clear pathway to further education, training and employment.

This year about 450 Canterbury students from Kaikoura to Methven and including Christchurch spend part of their week at one of the tertiary providers engaged in a range of relevant, practical and hands-on programmes while the rest of the week is spent back at their secondary school.

The programmes the students are involved in are a range from business administration, health, hairdressing and hospitality to traditional trades such as applied engineering, automotive and building.

Of equal importance is that when they leave school they have skills and experience to move meaningfully into employment or may choose to further their studies or training.

In 2011, 110 students from participating schools were engaged in predominantly trades however the courses and student numbers have burgeoned to 450 students in 2013, engaged in a range of programmes to meet “labour and student demand.”

“Our intention is to work with the community to ensure the tertiary providers meet the full breadth of needs. Long term our desire is to collaborate across all tertiary providers including Canterbury and Lincoln Universities,” Emma says.

What inspired the Academy concept was the reality that the majority of school leavers “didn’t know what their journey after school looks like”.

“We knew we could help students make sense of this confusion by accessing the wider community to provide tertiary experience, workplace practice and hopefully broaden future employment options for those 70 percent of students,” Emma says.

“We are already achieving this with about 37 percent transitioning into fulltime tertiary study and another 40 percent going into apprenticeships, work ready and able to meet the needs of employers.

Emma believes that it is thanks to CPIT, the Canterbury Tertiary College and the Ministry of Education for “their vision and commitment to overcome the barriers and make this change” that will lead to a real step change in getting young New Zealanders qualified and employed.

“It is connecting education and industry in a relevant way that creates better employment prospects for young people,” she comments.

Emma has spent nearly 15 years in education and the satisfaction for her is seeing practically minded students prosper in the pathway of their choice.

“This scheme is changing students, families, communities. These 450 students will contribute to the rebuild of Canterbury. If only the wider community knew more about it, they would mobilise themselves as well.”

“Learning in a Trades Academy gives students real life skills and qualifications and using the Vocational Pathways young people can choose their study options and see how it relates to future job or career options,” says Arthur Graves, Group Manager Youth Guarantee, which oversees the Vocational Pathways.

“Students can get relevant qualifications and a Vocational Pathway which will set them up for their next steps, whether it’s into tertiary study, industry training or employment.”

“New Zealand has to improve the rate of NCEA Level 2 achievement, the minimum qualification a young person needs to get to be ready for a better future. To get employment you need to get a solid education, achieving at least a minimum qualification, or more.

“NZ has poor retention rates of 15-19 year olds remaining in education to get qualifications and skills that will benefit them and not enough young people progressing to Level 4 or above, on the New Zealand qualifications framework.”

More than 4,200 senior secondary schools students, from 264 schools are currently enrolled at a Trades Academy this year, in 22 Secondary-Tertiary Programmes throughout New Zealand.

For initial outcomes from these programmes, see the ‘Youth Guarantee Monitoring Report:

Impact of Trades Academies & Youth Guarantee Fees-Free Provision on Student Performance’ to see the effect on outcomes for students

The Ministry of Education is holding regional workshops on the Youth Guarantee focused on raising achievement, retention and transitions of young people across secondary schools and tertiary providers. The workshops will discuss initiatives to raise student achievement and develop relevant learning opportunities for students; connecting school, tertiary and future employment. For dates and registrations

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