Academy numbers set to rise

01:22, Jul 17 2014

The learn-on-the-go motto suits Manawatu student Mathew Feekes, with trades training giving him a taste of tertiary education and the hospitality sector.

Feekes, 17, is one of 4200 secondary school students signed up at a trades academy, with the number set to blossom to 5250 from next year.

The Government has announced it's offering another 750 spots for students in New Zealand's 22 trades academies - news welcomed by Palmerston North education providers.

Trades academies couple the chance to earn NCEA credits and tertiary qualifications with hands-on, practical skills training for secondary school students.

More than 230 students in the wider Manawatu are enrolled at UCOL's Trades Academy, which teams with schools, industry groups, employers and other tertiary training organisations, such as Taratahi, to provide programmes in hospitality, health and beauty, engineering and construction.

"It's all about kids getting a chance to explore some stuff before they have to commit to it," UCOL's executive dean of trades and technology, Kelly Gay, said.


"It's giving them a line of visibility through to potential employment and qualifications post education . . . there's multiple benefits, because students get a first glimpse and know what they're about before they get there."

Feekes, a year 13 St Peter's College student, spends one day a week at UCOL's Trades Academy.

Through the programmes he's achieved a National Certificate in Hospitality and is tackling a 12-month Business Management Course this year.

"You get a full day dedicated to it and you find out a lot more about what [work and tertiary study] is really like, instead of being stuck in the classroom," Feekes said.

A Ministry of Education-evaluation of the first three years of trades academies showed an increase in the number of students staying in study and pupils passing NCEA level 2.

"This gives us real confidence that these new learning opportunities are the right way to go for many young people who benefit from a clear sense of direction, and see how their learning is relevant for where they want to go," Education Minister Hekia Parata said.

Manawatu Standard