Ninety-three graduates from the Murihiku Trades Academy topped off a successful year last week, with a walk across the stage to receive their certificate from SIT Executive Director, Daryl Haggerty; it was a night of celebration for the graduates, staff, friends, family and whanau, as the academy proves its worth in guiding students into vocational training for their future careers.
It was only the second time Murihiku Trades Academy had been able to have a graduation ceremony due to Covid disruptions; more than 300 people attended the celebration on November 14th, held at Hansen Hall, SIT business division of Te Pūkenga, Invercargill Campus.
A total of 199 students graduated from the academy this year, with sixteen graduates from across Southland secondary schools also gaining ‘Top Student’ awards. Academy Coordinator, Trudy Brown, said it was a “fantastic” number of graduates. “It’s an honour to be a part of... it’s meeting a need.” She said demand is growing for places in the academy; with 210 funded allocations from the Ministry of Education, the academy started the year with 247 students. Schools funded some positions themselves to secure places for their students, Mrs Brown added. “We exceed what we get allocated, as the region needs more places.”
Mrs Brown said students often have no idea what they want to do for a career and the trades academy helps them to answer those questions around what training pathway to pursue. Students attend the trades academy one day each week, studying vocational programmes in Invercargill, Gore and Balclutha, which gives them the opportunity to test out different career options while working towards NCEA credits.
“For many of these students this is the icing on the cake of their school week, and it helps keep students in school for the year... it’s engaging them in hands-on learning and they’re achieving their credits as well... It’s really enabling for those who want to stay on the trades pathway.”
Acting Head of Faculty, Russell Finlay, commented on the positive relationships SIT has with secondary schools in the region to ensure the academy’s success. “We work really well with local schools to make vocational training available to their students - we even provide transportation through Ministry of Education funding to help remove any barriers to access learning,” he said.
The academy was undergoing a name change to Murihiku Tertiary Academy because trades was too narrow to describe the range of programmes they offer, Mrs Brown explained. People’s perception was that trades referred to, for example, only traditional trades such as building or automotive. Alongside the usual building, mechanical and electrical trades, the academy offered courses in beauty, hairdressing, digital design and animation, animal care, fitness, health and support services and the hospitality sector. “It’s vast” she added, and the name change better reflects the variety offered.