Trades Academy goes from strength to strength
Publish Date: Monday, 17 August 2020
Trades Academy goes from strength to strength
#Trades Academy

From small beginnings less than ten years ago, Southern Institute of Technology’s Murihiku Trades Academy and Hokonui Tertiary High School are going from strength to strength in providing a clear study pathway for students who want to gain practical skills for their future career. The successful scheme is aiming to provide more places for students in 2021, accommodating for growth in the programmes. Many Trades Academy students enrol in further tertiary study, having been well informed and prepared in their vocation choices while still at high school.


Murihiku Trades Academy was created out of a need first recognised in Eastern Southland, after SIT and local secondary schools there established the Gore-based Hokonui Tertiary High School in 2013 in response to a community youth initiative. The project saw SIT collaborate with local stakeholders to form the successful tertiary academy, resulting in the delivery of practical, hands-on training, one day a week for young people in Eastern and Northern Southland.


By 2017, Murihiku Trades Academy was born, with SIT as the Lead Provider. The academy expanded to include servicing secondary schools throughout the wider Southland region and Queenstown.


Around the same time, The Southland Secondary Tertiary Partnership Governance Group was formed as an advisory to provide guidance and direction. Representatives include: Southland secondary school principals, SIT, Ministry of Education, Great South, Youth Futures, and other tertiary providers.


The Murihiku Trades Academy/Hokonui Tertiary High School are overseen from Invercargill and Gore Campuses, by a coordination team that maintain weekly contact with schools and students. Communications cover pastoral care, academic progress and ensuring student needs are being met.


The initiative has grown from 33 students in 2017 to around 150 this year, and is aiming to secure places for 250 students in 2021. It is a great example of SIT’s ability to form successful partnerships with community and highlights the positive relationships it enjoys with secondary schools and their students.


Programmes selected for the Murihiku Trades Academy and the Hokonui Tertiary High School are based on the Vocational Pathways programmes developed by SIT in collaboration with industry, to match students’ learning to their future intended career. Students attaining credits towards Vocational Pathways develop foundation skills and knowledge in areas identified as of value to employers. Students have a broad range of subject options to choose from:

  • Building & Joinery
  • Gaming, Art & Design
  • Automech
  • Agriculture
  • Hospitality & Café Bar Services
  • Salon Skills
  • Uniformed Services
  • Health & Support Services

Vocational Pathways assist Year 12 and Year 13 secondary school students in achieving at least 20 sector –related credits towards NCEA Level 2 or Level 3; in most programmes students can obtain 24-30 credits, plus a Vocational Pathway Endorsement Award. 


There are a range of valuable outcomes for secondary school students in the academy, including: credits towards NCEA, employment, apprenticeships and pathways to further study options. In 2019, 96.7% of Trades Academy students achieved positive outcomes, and 86.2% of academy graduates achieved NCEA Level 2.


Joinery student Jordan Cruickshank has had the advantage of utilising a Trades Academy course to assist her in deciding what career path to take. She developed an interest in joinery throughout her school years and used the academy Building & Joinery course to determine if it was the right qualification for her to pursue.


Now at SIT and completing the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) – Joinery, Jordan enjoys the practical emphasis of the qualification and being hands-on as much as possible. She values the fact she is learning skills that will not only help her gain employment, but are useful, practical abilities to have in life as well.


Josh Olive is also a practical person who enjoys hands-on learning as he works towards his New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3) (Light). He said he wasn’t sure what he would study after completing his Trades Academy Automotive Engineering course last year. But with a little guidance from his tutors, he’s on the right track and has progressed to the pre- apprenticeship qualification, which prepares students for the automotive engineering industry, teaching them all the fundamentals required to successfully move onto the next stage – an apprenticeship.


Josh has found there’s been good continuity of knowledge and skills from Trades Academy through to the light automotive course, and has enjoyed a smooth transition from one to the other, saying, “... from completion of the Trades Academy course I got accepted into my full-year course straight away”.


Further information on the Murihiku Trades Academy or Hokonui Teritiary High School can be accessed through careers advisors at high school, or check out the information available on SIT’s website: or phone 0800 4 0 FEES (0800 40 3337)