Business buy-in is lifeline to secondary students - Horowhenua Trades Academy

Posted on 2015-04-23 by W McD

A New Zealand property developer passionately believes that if there is no business buy-in to a student’s education then “there is no connection to reality.” Wayne Bishop, a Horowhenua District Councillor and property developer who recently bought the old Kimberley Hospital site in Levin, says work experience while still at school is “the link to life”.

He has recently begun a $150 million country estate development on the 48 hectare hospital (120 acre) site and has gifted an area for the Ministry of Education and UCOL to establish a Horowhenua Trades Academy so that local secondary students can contribute to the development and learn about construction and infrastructure in a real life context. UCOL is trucking in a container of building equipment this week and the Academy will officially open on Friday (27 February 2015).

“This is exactly the sort of co-operation between industry and education we would like to see more of in New Zealand,” says Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee. “Learning in class does not always suit all of our young people – who really struggle to see the relevance of what they are learning. But being on a construction site, being part of the process which has real tangible results in both a commercial and communal sense – that’s what gives many students a buzz and that’s what will motivate them to do more and go further.”

Wayne is planning to build 500 lifestyle units at his Speldhurst Country Estate and says that there is guaranteed work on the project for the next 25 years. Wayne is a member of the Horowhenua Vocational Pathways Network which combines education, industry and local government to find ways to better link education to the outside world and help students stay engaged in their education. This is done through a range of Ministry of Education schemes which include Gateway, Star and Trades Academies.

Wayne started his own company in 1992, understands the importance of ‘get up and go’ and wants to help students find a pathway to a positive future. “It is easy for the community to criticise young people who leave school without direction or a job but what are they doing about it? They need to be part of the solution. It will take more than just a school to give these students the best chance for success,” he says.

The Trades Academy will open with 16 students from three Horowhenua secondary schools who will learn theory in their schools and practical at the ‘village’ Wayne is developing. Wayne, a mentor, will offer work experience as part of the tuition and provide building projects so students can earn credits as part of their Construction and Infrastructure Vocational Pathway. During their three term course, students will spend one day a week on site learning everything from safety to building cabins and will be supervised by Wayne and his team as he begins his massive development which will eventually see 750 people living in the ‘village’.

Statistics New Zealand quotes an additional 165,000 over 65s will live in the Kapiti region over the next 15-20 years and Wayne says they need to be looked after. However his vision does not end with one, two or three bedroom units, but a village that has integrated services and where Horowhenua sporting and cultural clubs can use the facilities and be based there. He is already building a world class croquet facility with four playing surfaces on the site for the local club. “I want to ignite a spark that gives students a future and see them develop as experienced and qualified tradespeople. There is a construction zone here for the next 25 years,” Wayne says.  “I’m so energised about this. It will make a significant impact on our economy. We need skilled trades people and there is no better way than starting through the Youth Guarantee Scheme.” To prove his point he is already providing work experience for four to six students from the Trades Academy at Otaki on a two day a week basis.

Horowhenua Vocational Pathways Coordinator,  Anthea Hale, says Wayne is passionate about building and “giving kids the right skills to contribute to the growing industry.” “Building at Speldhurst is the start of bigger and better things for these kids. It is important to show them how things work in the real world and giving them ‘real life’ experience is a way to do this,” she says. As part of her work, Anthea has been talking to other businesses about what they want from the Trades Academy. “Input from business is essential to us – we need to provide students with qualifications and skills which will be relevant for their future employers to ensure these young New Zealanders end up with satisfying employment – and ideally in the local economy. Industry also feels more valued because they are being consulted,” she says. “Business buy-in is vital. We can create a certain course but if there is no interest in students with those skills or qualifications and ultimately no jobs then there is no point. The construction course is popular and thanks to industry support and the huge development on our doorstep, it will benefit the community in more ways than one,” Anthea says.



Anthea Hale, Horowhenua Vocational Pathways Coordinator (022-130-2213)

Wayne Bishop, Property Developer (06-368-1859 or 027-447-4611).