Press release: Industry Training Organisation welcomes boost to trade programmes and promotion of trades in secondary schools

Prue Feely News

Wellington 24 October 2019

This week’s announcement by the Government of a 27 percent increase in places to be made available at Trades Academies and Gateway secondary-tertiary programmes for school students has been welcomed by the nation’s infrastructure sector training organisation, Connexis.

The move, which involves the largest single increase in Trades Academy places in recent years, will fund 2,000 more places at Trades Academies from 2020, and up to 2,000 more places for Gateway programmes. 

This comes in conjunction with the Government announcement for a new education-to-employment brokerage service through the Ministry of Social Development, a promotional campaign for vocational education, and more funding for industry speed-dating events, modelled off the Industry Training Organisations SpeedMeets events in which school students obtain face-to-face meetings with local employers.

Toby Beaglehole, Chief Executive of Connexis Infrastructure Industry Training, says the boost to Trades Academy and Gateway programmes and promotion of trade careers is another clear indication of the value that the Government places on vocational education and training.

“Connexis also shares the Government’s commitment to raising the profile of vocational education in schools and communities around New Zealand in its current Review of Vocational Education (RoVE).

“Connexis is a forward-focused organisation and we recognise that to fill the skills shortages New Zealand faces we need to think long-term. The need to expose secondary students to trade-based jobs prior to completing school is a vital part of the picture.”

As part of its wide range of industry-specific training programmes, Connexis operates a partnership with the Top of the South Trades Academy, based in Stoke.

Top of the South Trades Academy Manager, Shaaron James, says the partnership programme, which has been running for three years, gives secondary students in the region an opportunity to gain relevant infrastructure industry unit standard based training while still at school. 

“The programme has evolved now to offer two weeks’ work experience with local employers in addition to one day per week training. All of our students have gone on to work within the infrastructure industry, undertaken further training or gone into employment. Our recent joint top students were both young women, which goes to show the development of the industry in terms of gender diversity.”

Connell Contractors Ltd interviewing a student at Hamilton Speed Meets. August 2019

Toby adds that Connexis is fully engaged with school-based initiatives such as Trades Academies, Gateway, SpeedMeets as well as its own initiatives such as Girls with Hi-Vis®, all aimed at supporting industry employers in addressing the skills shortages being faced. 

“While there is a real need for more workers in our industry, research shows that a trade career is a smart career choice for school leavers.  Research conducted by BERL shows that the financial position, at the end of their career, for those leaving school and entering the workforce to take up an apprenticeship is on par with those that choose to undertake a bachelor’s degree.

“The difference is that those undertaking an apprenticeship are more likely to purchase a house earlier and have a higher net financial position throughout their career than those heading down the University path.

“Schools are, and will continue to be, a crucial part of vocational education,” says Toby Beaglehole. “Connexis welcomes the Government’s latest step to better link schools with the world of work.”