Primary ITO Trades Academy winds up first year of training Central Southland College students in agriculture

Posted on 2015-12-14 by Ryan LH

While most teachers take their students on just a handful of field trips a year, Central Southland College's Lynley Woodd has taken her kids on no less than 11. "We've been on fishing boats, we've been to Tuatapere, we've been on dairy farms," she said. "It was awesome." Woodd took the students on the field trips under the umbrella of the Primary ITO Trades Academy. The programme, which trains students for careers in primary industries such as dairy farming, was in its first year at the Winton school.

Central Southland College was the only school in Southland offering the programme, Woodd said. "It was all skills-based," Woodd said. "It's more practical, more hands-on. They [students] need to understand the picture. If they don't understand, they don't last [in primary industries]." Woodd, who is also Central Southland College's agriculture department head, said nine students took part in the programme as part of level one this year. All the students would move on to level two next year, while a new crop of 10 students would begin level one courses. Following level two, students would be able to pursue careers on farms and in agriculture throughout New Zealand, Woodd said. "The primary industries are crying out for skilled workers." She said a skilled worker needed to be able to operate machinery such as tractors or ATVs, think quickly, be able to repair things such as fences or broken equipment, work independently, and have a good understanding of business and how the primary industries business worked.

Venture Southland's youth futures co-ordinator, Jo Barnsdale, said programmes like this were important for young people thinking about a career in primary industries. "There are career opportunities for youth to be had," she said. "They can lead into all sorts of things. Trades academies offer students a chance to still be in school, but get hands-on experience." Such offering were important because the primary industries was both an important - and highly varied - aspect of the Southland economy, Barnsdale said. "Primary industries is very wide. It's not just dairy farming."

Another trades academy is set to open in Southland next year. Plans were unveiled last month for the Murihiku Trades Academy, which will be provided by the Southern Institute of Technology. It will initially have places for 40 students.