Aviation programme encourages young women to reach for the skies

Issue: Volume 97, Number 11

Posted: 25 June 2018
Reference #: 1H9jLx

The School to Skies course aims to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, aviation and engineering.

School to Skies gives young women in Year 13 the chance to explore STEM roles they may not have known about.

Year 13 Taita College student Eloise Old has wanted to join the Air Force since she was little. Eloise is attracted to a military career due to its family and team-oriented nature.

Year 13 Kaitaia College student Akesa Waitai-Ifopo is passionate about maths and physics and wants to be a pilot once she finishes school.

Both young women were among almost 50 students who recently had the opportunity to spend a week on a technology- and aviation-focused camp.

Hosted by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), the School to Skies programme is open to Year 13 girls who are currently studying NCEA Level 3 maths and science subjects.

For Eloise, School to Skies has helped her to refine the direction of her career.

“Before I went on this course I wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. I went on the course and I was learning about all these different careers; some of them I had never heard of before. It really interested me and so I changed from wanting to be a pilot to wanting to be a helicopter loadmaster.”

For Akesa, the programme helped her confirm what she already knew.

“I wanted to be a pilot before I went on the programme, but it kind of gave me a better idea of what I needed and what I had to do to get in next year hopefully.”

Before taking part in the programme, Akesa didn’t know anyone her age with the same career aspiration, let alone another female. She’s since met many with similar interests.

“I didn’t realise how popular the career is, for females especially, and how competitive it would be going into it so that was pretty cool. I liked being around people who had similar interests as me because it was real easy to get along with them.

“A lot of females are scared about going into fields such as engineering and all that because they think they’ll be the only girl,” she says. “Seeing it first-hand is pretty cool.”

Squadron Leader and Staff Officer of Diversity and Inclusion Sarah Collins says the programme aims to promote diversity within the Air Force and to encourage young women to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) fields.

“In order to be really good at what we do for the people of New Zealand, we need to better reflect our society. We don’t have enough women in our military so we want more, and we want to also up the numbers within the technical and aviation roles because we’re particularly under-represented in that area,” Sarah says.

“We know not everyone is going to come and join the Air Force after this, but just to know we can help them link into something STEM-related is pretty cool.”

Tertiary Education Commission Chief Executive Tim Fowler says continuing to study maths and science subjects at secondary school can ensure the door is kept open to many learning and career pathways.

“New Zealand’s skills shortages are mostly in jobs related to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) school subjects, and we know New Zealand needs more women in aviation,” he says.

“The School to Skies programme is meeting both these skill demands head on by giving young women in Year 13 the chance to explore STEM roles they may not have known about − in this case engineering, technician and pilot jobs in the aviation industry.”

Vocational Pathways Award

Young women who are interested in STEM-aligned careers like aviation may also benefit from working towards a Manufacturing and Technology or Construction and Infrastructure Vocational Pathways Award. Students can achieve a Vocational Pathways Award as part of their NCEA Level 2. These awards give young people a head start in tertiary studies or employment and can be pursued alongside traditional science and maths school subjects.

To find out more contact your school or visit Youth Guarantee / Vocational Pathways(external link)

The Government is currently reviewing NCEA as part of its three-year Education Conversation | Kōrero Mātauranga.

For more information visit www.conversation.education.govt.nz(external link).

The Tertiary Education Commission runs an employer-led work exploration programme called Work Inspiration, which gives secondary school students the opportunity to enter a workplace to explore industry roles, career pathways and find out what skills employers are looking for.

For more information, visit Work Inspiration.(external link)
(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:00 am, 25 June 2018

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