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Community Matters - Benefits of High School training

Educators know that students learn in a variety of ways, and that there are many different skills and qualities needed for our future workforce. It follows then, that different training pathways are needed to meet the needs of both our school students and their future employers. Some students at secondary school follow an academic path, heading on to further study at tertiary institutions, such as polytechs or universities. Others who learn more by doing, or may be looking for a career in the trades or technology fields can find being enrolled at a high school academy a great way to get some skills and hands on experience sooner rather than later. The practical aspects of this type of learning can be a real incentive to stay at school and complete a useful qualification.

In the current climate of partnership and collaboration, Trade Academies at high schools are a good example of schools, tertiary institutions, industry training organisations, employers and the Ministry of Education working together. The academies focus on delivering trades and technology programmes at secondary schools, consisting of work experience as well as related study. They link students in with the world of work while at school in their senior years, and through this partnership they can complete an NCEA qualification.

Otamatea High School, as a local example, currently has two trade academies – Hospitality and Primary Industries – and both combine classroom study with on-the-job learning to complete a Level 2 qualification. An added benefit of the Hospitality Academy at Otamatea High School is the newly built cafe where students are making and selling fabulous, tasty (and healthy!) lunches, snacks and coffee to the staff and other students. A future proposed academy, if approved by the Ministry of Education, from next year is Construction and Whakairo (Maori carving).

Work experience has been a feature of secondary schools over a long period of time. Gateway, as the work experience programme is called, is similar, but different from the Academies. Gateway provides senior students opportunities for work experience and a chance to test out different occupations. The school links in with local employers across a wide range of occupations and businesses, and students are placed in work for periods of time to gain experience. They may gain NCEA credits through their achievements, and generally do this alongside their other NCEA subjects.

Another initiative for young people needing to gain skills and preparation for the workforce is the Pathways individualised learning programmes. Students develop their CV, research career options and requirements, and gain skills relevant to their chosen industry. They also work towards obtaining their drivers license, undertake first aid training and learn the importance of good work habits.

With the push from government, schools, parents and students themselves for students to leave school with a meaningful qualification, it is great to see opportunities available to meet the different interests and learning needs of our young people.

n Libby Jones is involved in many community organisations in both paid and volunteer roles. She has experience in social services, health and education including governance, funding, research, clinical and management roles.


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