NorthTec Trades Academy off to Cracking Start

March 19, 2024
March 18, 2024

Almost one hundred secondary school students from across Tai Tokerau have signed on to NorthTec’s Trades Academy programme this year, getting a head start on their career goals while gaining industry skills and credits toward NCEA and University Entrance.

With the start of the new academic year comes a new wave of students for NorthTec, Tai Tokerau’s largest tertiary education provider. As part of their academic year, students from Northland’s high schools in years 12 and 13 can take part in the Trades Academy getting hands-on experience in an industry of their choice.

NorthTec’s Trades Academy offers year-long programmes to secondary school students, this year in the areas of health care, automotive, hair and beauty, food and beverages, cookery, and construction, to help students achieve NCEA Level 2 or 3, aid them in developing skills and experience in an industry they are interested in, and prepare them for further study after school.

“Students who sign up for the Health Trades Academy will get the chance to complete a range of assessments that can earn the credits in NCEA level 2 and 3,” explains Lucie Quantrill, NorthTec tutor. “The assessments are a combination of written and practical assessment. We've had many students who attended the Health Trades Academy go on to enrol in our nursing programme and become qualified nurses.”

Students who enrol in the Food and Beverage Trades Academy not only get credits for NCEA, but also get valuable experience in the hospitality industry.

“I want to go into the tourism industry after school,” says Kyle Jenkins, a food and beverage trades academy student. “I’d like to work at theme parks overseas and see the world a little bit. By doing the trades academy course I can stay in school and get NCEA. Then when I finish school, I can enrol in the NZ Certificate in Tourism Level 3. If I left school now, I’d have to do the level 2 first then the level 3 anyway. It’s much better this way, it’s a really good opportunity.”

“I want to work in cafés and things after school,” Bonney Thickpenny, another food and beverage student explains. “The academy gives me the chance to try it out and see if I like it. That way I’m not wasting my time if it doesn’t work for me.”

The students come from seventeen different schools around the area which means participants in the Trades Academy not only get to gain credits to help with NCEA and industry-specific skills, but they also get to meet new people from other schools and interact outside of their friend groups.

“Honestly, my parents talked me into it,” admits student, Ariana Leila Ray McCorkindale. “I have been out of school for a bit before this and they wanted me to continue. I wasn’t that keen, but now that I’m here and learning I’m glad they encouraged me to do it. It’ll help me get a job after school and can set me up to travel too. It’s nice to get out of class and do something practical too, I enjoy that.”

The ninety students that signed up for the NorthTec Trades Academy this year come from seventeen different schools, 58% of the students are female and 42% male.

“We interview the students,” explains Gareth Edwards, tutor for the Automotive trades Academy. “We only have 16 places and often at least 30 kids apply. So, we interview them all and figure out which of them are really interested and motivated in getting into the automotive industry. It’s a big commitment for them, some have to travel down from Kaikohe each week to be here, so they have to get up early and put the time in. We want to make sure that those that do get into the programme want to be here learning.”

Manaia is one of the Automotive Academy students. “I applied because I wanted to try it out and see if I like it for a job in the future,” he says. “I thought it could be a possible career for me but wanted to give it a go first. It’s good. I’m really enjoying it.

George and Manawa are both from Whangarei Girls High School (WGHS) and have also been accepted into the Automotive Trades Academy. They both have plans to work in the industry when they leave school and the credits they gain through the programme will not only help them with NCEA it will also make up part of an apprenticeship after school.

“I like finding out how things work,” says George. “Specifically motorbikes, but cars too. We don’t have automotive as an option at school so it’s a good opportunity to be able to come down to NorthTec instead. I plan to go on to either do a mechanic’s course or an apprenticeship after school, so this gives me a good start.”

Manawa also plans to be a mechanic or possibly an engineer. “It’s been really great to get into the programme to try it out. Then I can see what I like or don’t like. It’s been a lot of work so far but I’m really enjoying it.”

NorthTec’s trades academy works in partnership with and is funded by Te Tai Tokerau Trades Academy. All the available spots in the programme this year were filled and NorthTec hope to see many of the students go on to careers in the community and across the motu in the future.

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