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New workshop boosts training in trades for Waikato youth

2 August 2013

New workshop boosts training in trades for Waikato youth

The prospect of getting a foot in the door in the trades industry just got a little better for Waikato’s youth with the expansion of private training provider TrainMe, which will soon take on 100 more students every year in fully-funded entry level qualifications in agriculture and mechanical engineering.

Improving youth skills and employment is one of the Government’s 10 public sector targets – specifically increasing the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 or equivalent to 85 per cent by 2017, and increasing the proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds with advanced trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees.

The TrainMe Hamilton campus, which is located in Hamilton East, has been quietly helping the Government achieve this goal in the Waikato for more than a year. With a successful history of running foundational training programmes in Hamilton and Auckland since 1984, TrainMe received funding from the Tertiary Education Commission last year to offer free Youth Guarantee programmes in agriculture and mechanical engineering from its Hamilton campus.

The school is now close to opening a new, bigger 730 sqm, $1.2M workshop with two bays and classrooms which will allow it to train around 220 trade students a year - 100 more than it can currently accommodate.

Trade school programme leader Lance Langley said TrainMe is the only training provider in Hamilton offering youth guarantee programmes in Level 2 agriculture as well as offering a large mechanical engineering intake. ‘Youth Guarantee’ means the courses are free to eligible students.

“Youth guarantee funding is for 16 to 17-year-olds who have left school and want to gain a qualification that will help them move into work or tertiary study. Eligible adult students can also receive different funding to complete the qualifications for free,” said Langley.

He added that in May the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released its regional economic activity report which noted the Waikato’s NCEA level 2 achievement rates for school leavers are below the national average, and the proportion of 25 – 34 year olds with NZQA level 4 or above qualifications are also below the national average – suggesting there were opportunities to up-skill this age group in the region.

He said most students who complete the level 2 programmes go onto to do more study at a higher level or, particularly in the case of agriculture, get a foot in the door to an entry level job where further training can be undertaken.

“Trades courses are very practical and hands-on. Some of the skills taught in the agriculture and horticulture courses include how to ride a quad bike, use a chainsaw, drive tractors, handle animals and fix fences. Engineering students operate power tools, learn to weld and assemble machinery. “

He said this year alone the trades school had increased its staff numbers, employing four more tutors – two for each programme.

“Our tutors are all from the industry – one has more than 30 years’ experience in farming. We also have expertise from the forestry industry, an aircraft engineer and a telecommunications engineer – so there’s a real breadth of expertise on the teaching team.”

Langley said the Government’s key performance indicator is that 60 per cent of the students completing the courses will go on to further study or employment – but he said TrainMe wanted to do better than that and the school had a strong focus on working with the industry to help students connect and network.

“Our goal is that 100 per cent of our students go on to further training or employment – we don’t always achieve that because there’s a lot of factors at play, but we will do whatever we can to help students succeed in their study and move onto the next step in their education or employment pathway.”

For more information or to find out about eligibility for funded TrainMe courses, visit www.trainme.org.nz

- ENDS-

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