Tomorrow night, at 7.00pm at ILT Stadium Southland, Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) – Business Division of Te Pūkenga, and graduates will celebrate in the final Invercargill graduation ceremony of the year: The 2022 SIT Certificate Graduation Ceremony, where approximately 175 New Zealand Certificate qualifications will be presented to successful students within the Faculties of Health and Humanities; New Media, Arts, Business and Computing; Trades and Technology; SIT2LRN Distance Learning; and the Queenstown Campus.
Amongst the graduands, thirty-four employees from Recycle South (formerly Southland DisAbility Enterprises) will be attending to receive their qualification - The New Zealand Certificate in Skills for Living for Supported Learners with optional strand in Skills for Working (Level 1). Intended for people who require specialised support with their learning, the programme is currently undertaken with employees of Recycle South only, who alongside their work responsibilities, have completed the course part-time. Of the thirty-four graduands, twenty-two have completed the Skills for Living with the Skills for Working optional strand and twelve have completed the Skills for Living qualification.
The programme has seen an increase in numbers, up from eight graduates two years ago, and with 80% of the graduands aged twenty-five or over, the certificate course represents in many cases, the first opportunity for students to succeed in training and upskilling, and have that achievement acknowledged in a formal qualification.
Recycle South General Manager, Hamish McMurdo, said the programme has been so successful, “It’s now part of our fabric. They all want to do it... and graduates now want to do more study, the course has expanded to include work skills.”
In early 2022, NZQA developed a new qualification to replace the Skills for Working optional strand – the New Zealand Certificate in Skills for Learning and Working for Supported Learners (Level 1) is a 120-credit (5 modules) programme, which SIT offered for the first time in October 2022. The first cohort was made up of students who had completed the Skills for Living programme in June 2022.
Mr McMurdo said as an employer, the courses enabled them to provide more diverse support to their people. “It’s doing two things, one, it’s getting them to work to standards and function in the social environment of work, and two, they’re also participating in education.”
He said almost all of the employees taking the course previously had negative experiences in education and it was no small feat to re-engage them in learning.
“They have never experienced success or enjoyment in education, it’s the reality of the system... they are terrified of education. Here there is safety, no judging, nobody annoying them or failing them.”
He added the students are fully embracing the supportive environment provided. “This provides enjoyment – they can work under their own steam, at their own pace and at their own level and have success.”
The qualification is reinforcing the skills they learn as employees, he continued. “We’ve seen growth in work skills and improvement in work standards because of the programme. There’s also anecdotal evidence of improvements in their personal lives, they are taking better care of themselves and their home environments.”
The cream on the top will be watching the parents, caregivers and whānau see their family member receiving their qualification at tomorrow night’s ceremony, Mr McMurdo said. “They have never seen them achieve in this way, it doesn’t matter how old they are,” this is the ‘magic moment’. It makes everything worth it, he concluded.
And the final words go to the graduands:
“I loved it. I loved researching and learning new things.”
“I liked it. I enjoyed the Skills for Living course. I got to know more about the people here.”
“I enjoyed learning about New Zealand History/Māori topic. I had lovely outings up town, and I read great books at the Library.”
“The Skills for Work course was very helpful for my job. The Skills for Living course was good to recap my skills.”