Getting local Maori and Pacific Islanders into a career, not just a job, is the main aim behind a new training programme.
SkillMe Maori and Pasifika Trades Training was launched in Rotorua yesterday by Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce.
A consortium was led by Waiariki Institute of Technology in partnership with Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho Ake Trust, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi and Taumarunui Community Kokiri Trust to get more young Maori and Pasifika into apprenticeships and employment.
The programme was launched at the construction site of the Waiariki Charity House, based at Placemakers. Carpentry students gain real-life skills building the house, which will be auctioned for charity on completion.
Rob Cole is part of the first intake of SkillMe with Waiariki. Of Cook Island descent, the 19-year-old is currently completing a certificate in carpentry level 4. Through the new programme, he will be assisted by a pastoral care team who can help with issues such as attendance and finance, through to finding an apprenticeship.
"I'm just really passionate about carpentry, especially since the Christchurch earthquakes, seeing so many houses [were] destroyed and damaged," he said.
The SkillMe consortium is one of 12 around the country delivering the Government's $43 million Maori and Pasifika Trades Training initiative, which will provide 3000 places by 2015. The initiative will bring together tertiary education providers, Maori and/or Pasifika organisations and employers.
Mr Joyce said there would be a strong demand in the near future for skilled trades people, with new housing in Auckland and the Christchurch rebuild.
He said the aim was to help young people "not just to get a job but a pick up a career and skill that will see them through their working life". Waiariki Institute of Technology chief executive Professor Margaret Noble said they were continuing their strong history in offering trade trading courses.
"This year, over 60 per cent of government funded students at Waiariki are Maori and we have found the trade area is what many people are wanting to come to Waiariki for to learn."