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Growth plans for trades academy

By Alison Beckham - ODT / The Southland Express

The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) plans to encourage the expansion of a new trades academy starting this year which will offer entry-level trades training to Invercargill secondary school pupils.

Government funding was announced last month for the Murihiku Trades Academy, with funding for 40 places in the first year of operation.

"This year will be like a pilot. We have to stick to what our capabilities are,'' SIT trades and technology head of faculty Doug Rodgers said.

Young people would spend one or two days a week learning a trade, with the credits they gained counting towards their NCEA Level 2 qualification, he said.

The academy's pupils would still remain enrolled in their respective secondary schools.

Initially, places would be available in carpentry, a mixed automotive-engineering course, hairdressing, beauty therapy and retail, he said.

"We don't want to spread ourselves too thinly. As we are more successful, as the years roll on, we should be able to expand into other trades as well.''

Principals spoken to were "definitely on board'' and would begin referring suitable young people once the school year began, he said.

Academy classes would begin in March.

Successfully completing an academy course would give participants a "very strong case'' for selection to full-time trades study at SIT if that was their desire, Mr Rodgers said.

"NCEA Level 2 is the entry requirement for tertiary study. If they perform well at the academy I would suggest they would get a position quite easily because they will be in our system and the tutors will know them.''

This year, almost 6200 pupils throughout the country will attend trades academies.

The model was one which worked, particularly for teenagers who were in danger of losing interest in secondary school, Mr Rodgers said.

‘‘It’s not just about meeting industry and educational needs, but we are meeting a community need here too.’’

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