Trades academy to keep Rotorua's youth learning

By, Gary Hamilton-Irvine

A trades academy for secondary school students will be brought to Rotorua, aiming to keep more students engaged in learning.

Rotorua students in Years 11 to 13, who are interested in a career in trades or technology, will be able to combine study at the academy with their National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).

Trades academies were established in New Zealand in 2011 to deliver trades and technology courses to students through partnerships between schools, tertiary institutions, training organisations and employers.

After a successful year in 2012, the Eastern Bay of Plenty Trades Academy has extended a hub into Rotorua for 2013 through a partnership with Waiariki Institute of Technology.

The Ministry of Education has approved funding for 65 student places in the Rotorua hub and it's hoped those numbers will grow during the next few years.

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said the school would welcome the opportunity to participate in the academy next year.

"A trades academy in Rotorua has potential to support local industries and businesses," he said. "Conversely, it should reduce the number of young people not productively engaged in education or employment, a significant issue for the Rotorua district."

He said the new academy would provide greater diversity in learning pathways and career options for secondary students in Rotorua.

"Working in close collaboration with Waiariki will ensure students can select courses which more closely match their talents, interests and future aspirations."

Training areas offered through the academy will include construction, electrical, automotive, engineering, agriculture, forestry, cooking and hospitality, hairdressing, beauty and health care.

Western Heights High School principal Violet Pelham was also supportive of the project.

"We see this as another strategy to keep students engaged with their learning with a special focus on those students with an interest in vocational and trades pathways.

"For some of these students, schools cannot always provide all of their learning needs and this initiative will complement their school programme."

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said the academy was a great idea for the area.

"Too many young people are slipping through the cracks and leaving school without any formal qualifications or skills.

"This proposal will be an important tool to provide [them] with a way to earn relevant qualifications and a much better chance of entering the workforce."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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