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A Thousand Learners Get A Job Boost At Nearly Zero Cost

The Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) has had a big impact in the lower North Island, with learners and local employers reaping the benefits. 980 learners at UCOL alone have learned or are currently learning a wide range of skills covered fees-free through TTAF.

The impacts of COVID-19 and TTAF’s launch last year has had noticeable ripples, causing several new trends. “Learners from all walks of life are showing great interest in industries that have not been in demand the same way before,” says Danny Reilly, UCOL’s Executive Dean – Engineering and Applied Technologies. Out of the 980, fifty-five percent of these learners are under the age of twenty-five and thirty-one percent are Māori or Pasifika. “It’s heartening to see so many young people and women picking up trades,” he adds.

“It’s a win-win situation for both, students and the trades industry,” says Robin Hanson, Operations Manager at Ashhurst Engineering & Construction. “We noted a strong drive with the newer generation to get into trades, based on the awareness that TTAF has put out to possible apprentices and employers. The ease of business in working with UCOL has made this process extremely easy for employers like us,” he says. Ashhurst Engineering & Construction have already put five of their staff through UCOL’s apprenticeship scheme.

That’s not to say that TTAF is only available for trades – qualifications in information technology (IT) gained popularity too. Enrolments for the New Zealand Certificate in Information Technology Essentials (Level 4) went up, especially given that it’s taught online, says Dean Rankin, Executive Dean – Humanities & Business. “Most learners looking to upskill find this suits their schedules, as they study while working,” he adds.

While trades, IT, and primary industry qualifications received a good push, demand for health and wellbeing programmes has stayed at its already strong position. “These programmes have always been high in demand, and while we’ve not seen a significant rise in enrolments, it doesn’t take away from the fact that TTAF’s made it easier for learners to get into this field and enrol in programmes like the New Zealand Diploma in Enrolled Nursing,” says Penny O’Leary, Executive Dean – Health, Social Services & Applied Science.

UCOL have said they’re looking to make the most of the opportunity for their learners, launching new TTAF programmes like the New Zealand Diploma in Primary Industry Business Management Level 5 and the New Zealand Diploma in Cybersecurity (Level 6) while the free funding is available.

Danny Reilly would offer a note of caution though to learners considering TTAF – “It’s only guaranteed to the end of 2022.”

“We’d definitely encourage the Government to keep this funding going but as it currently stands, it’s only going to be covering fees up to 31 December 2022. So it’s a bit of a get in before its gone kind of situation.”

A full list of TTAF-funded programmes are available here. 

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