Whanganui UCOL is driving the development of local automotive training after industry representatives from across the city gathered at its new automotive workshop.
The gathering was set on March 23 to discuss further training options for its students.
The workshop, located on Hatrick St, is the training environment for UCOL's Certificate in Automotive Engineering Level 3. It is a pre-apprenticeship qualification designed for students to learn real skills in the workshop environment before they are exposed to the workforce.
Maurice Filer, the head of school for UCOL's Automotive Industries, says the meeting confirmed the need for continued professional development, as well as further entry level training in the automotive industry in Whanganui.
"Employers know that apprentices require time and training which in turn costs money.
If we can make sure that new apprentices can walk through the door of a workshop with a basic mechanical skill set and the theory to back it, then they can be of real use to their employers."
By successfully completing this course, students gain a Level 2 National Certificate which fast forwards their apprenticeship.
UCOL's executive dean of trades and technology, Dr Nicky Van der Bergh, says local training programmes like this one is essential at every level in order for regional growth.
"We have to train our people so that they can service their community," she said. "We are looking into providing short courses for mechanical and automotive industry engineers, and we are exploring carpentry and engineering programme options."
Dr Van der Bergh also acknowledges the importance of continued close relationships and feedback between UCOL and the Whanganui industry.
"We need to make sure that we are developing students who make a difference wherever they work, and the way we do that is by matching the skills we teach to industry needs."
Current student of the programme, Guy Coker, said the biggest attraction of the course is how hands-on it is.
"The course is already making a huge improvement in my skills, such as welding, light fabrication (sheetmetal engineering) and learning engine components for the automotive trade in this day in age.
"Our tutor has had a lot of experience so learning has been made a lot easier and achievable with UCOL."
There are currently 15 students studying the Certificate in Automotive Engineering with the programme set to run again in 2017.
Enrolments are open for 2017 at UCOL's in Whanganui, Palmerston North and Wairarapa.