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Wairarapa gains from new Trades Academy

Wairarapa gains from new Trades Academy

Secondary school students and in Manawatu, Whanganui and Wairarapa will benefit from a new Trades Academy being set up for next year.

UCOL has welcomed the announcement by Education Minister Anne Tolley of a new Trades Academy based at UCOL. Dean of Trades and Technology Kelly Gay says the academy will help young people to make a start on trades training while still at secondary school and is also expected to help meet trades shortages in UCOL regions, and in other parts of New Zealand.

The Academy will have hubs in Palmerston North, Masterton and Whanganui.

The Government funded initiative will offer trades and technology related programmes to secondary students, as part of a new partnership involving local schools, industry groups, employers, industry training organisations, other training organisations and UCOL. The partnership approach helps students to progress smoothly and directly through secondary school via tertiary education into employment.

Students in Year 11 to 13 who are interested in a career in trade and technology will be able to achieve NCEA while studying towards nationally transferable tertiary qualifications at Levels 2. They will also have access to industry advice and visits, and UCOL student support services.

UCOL’s Dean of Trades and Technology Kelly Gay believes UCOL’s role in leading the new Trades Academy is a natural extension of its trade and technology strengths. “Our vision is to connect secondary students with employment. We can do this by having co-operative relationships with schools, allowing us to support students interested in trade careers to achieve real pre-trade qualifications, while they continue their studies towards NCEA.

“We want industry visits, work placements and ITO involvement to make sure that these students can go straight into higher level trades training at polytechs, or engage directly with ITO apprenticeships. This is a really exciting opportunity for our region.”

Kelly says this can be achieved through a dual enrolment process allowing students to spend part of their week at school and the rest in the workshops. “They gain the benefits of being with their mates at school, staying with school sports and other activities and getting NCEA Level 2 qualifications to keep their options open, but also in engaging in real pre-trade training to prepare for the transition into further study or employment. It won’t be easy, they will have to work longer hours, but then if you’re serious about work, that’s just part of the package!”

He says the initiative is to make students aware of the many good career paths available to them and allow them to make informed decisions about their future. “Industry is facing some real shortages of skilled tradespeople right now, and that’s going to get worse in the short term. We need to attract more people to these well paid careers, and that means attracting the right sort of committed students. Right now too many students just don’t know about these careers.”

Kelly says the schools have been interested in supporting such a proposal, but the next step will be critical. “Schools are our key partners in this venture,” he says. “The next step is setting up the training hubs and working alongside the schools to see how we can integrate our programmes with theirs.

“Makoura College in the Wairarapa has developed a strong niche in trades and technology delivery and will also be offering their programmes to students who prefer to study trades within a secondary school environment. We will be working closely with them.”

The Principal of Makoura, Tom Hullena, says, “Makoura is supportive of initiatives that open up more and relevant vocational pathways for our students. We will work with UCOL to ensure that our students are a part of this.”

Kelly says all Masterton secondary schools will be able to offer the Trade Academy option to their students and parents. “We expect strong interest from parents who see that their child may respond well to coming into a tertiary organisation to make a start on earning a trade qualification that brings strong employment and career prospects.”

He says there are three pathways for students after participation in the Trade Academy:
• Stay at school and continue an academic pathway,
• Seek employment or direct entry into an apprenticeship,
• Continue with trade or technology training at tertiary level with the advantage of a pre-trade qualification already completed.

“These are all excellent ways forward for our young people, and all bring gains for employers and local economies” he says.


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