Schools step up to offer trades courses to students

Posted on 2016-05-12 by CM

Manukau Courier, Auckland – 12th May 2016

By Rakesh Krishnan

In order to bring down the student dropout rate and offer alternate career pathways, an increasing number of schools are supplementing academic study with job-oriented trades courses. In April 2015, Southern Cross Campus opened the country’s first purpose-built trades academy centre. The government funded ($3.5 million) academy offers Year 12 and 13 students practical courses in basic engineering, welding, fabrication manufacturing and wood based construction. With the Mangere area becoming a hub of logistics and manufacturing, the academy exposes students to the complexities of employment in a 21st century environment. ‘‘We want to offer our students, and the wider community, access to trades qualifications with a view towards tertiary studies and employment,’’ Robin Staples, Director, Southern Cross Campus says.

According to the Ministry of Education’s Youth Guarantee website, Auckland schools that have established trades academies include Massey High School, Kelston Girls College, Manurewa High School, Southern Cross Campus and Tamaki College. Private schools are also jumping on board. With its roll continuing to grow, Manukau Christian School in Manurewa plans to offer trade courses from 2017. Schools may be competing for students with the numerous private education providers that have mushroomed across Auckland. These institutes offer free trades courses through the Youth Guarantee initiative.

Educators at several private institutes admit they are impacted by the new school trade academies. ‘‘We are competing for the same set of students,’’ the manager of an East Tamaki based campus says. ‘‘Students who were not motivated at school often dropped out and we offered them a second chance.’’ The manager, who wished to remain unnamed, adds schools are desperate to retain students as a high ropout rate not only reflects negatively on their image but also impacts them in terms of funding.

Wendy Liao, director, New Zealand School of Education – one of the largest private providers of IT education in the country – agrees the entry of schools has affected the rolls at private colleges which are seeing lower intakes this year. NZSE, which this month opened a new Creative Technologies Campus in Avondale, may be better placed. According to Wendy, the stronger private players will continue to offer second chance options to those leaving school without the required credits. Approximately 70 per cent of school leavers do not enter degree level study, so there are many students looking at alternative options and careers. Private institutes recognised this a long time ago, annually drawing hundreds of students that the school system did not cater for. Now the schools want their students back.