Eyes on the prize

Issue: Volume 98, Number 8

Posted: 16 May 2019
Reference #: 1H9uB1

Senior students get work-ready for trades careers
A community partnership in South Auckland is supporting Year 13 students at Mangere College to connect their studies to local jobs and open the door to an array of work pathways.

The Mangere area is abuzz with development, growth and building, with up to 4,000 homes being built over the next 10 years by developer HLC (originally Hobsonville Land Company) in Mangere as the existing Housing NZ houses are to be removed.

The scale of the projects means there will be ongoing employment pathways for the school’s students in trades such as building, plumbing, painting and related industries.

Close by is the fast-growing business hub around Auckland Airport, which will also provide job pathways in retail, hospitality, logistics and construction. The airport zone will continue to expand over the next 30 years and its business community is aiming to have a locally based workforce.

“The airport is like a huge town all by itself,” says Mangere College Principal Tom Webb. “There’s a shortage of skilled workers, and thousands of jobs are going to be created as it continues to expand. But people need to be work-ready.”

Educational trust links to community

Mangere College is one of five schools in the area that set up an educational trust which manages the relationships with the various community partners, identifies training needs and connects students with training. The aim is to give the students a window on the world of work.

Tom says, “Knowing that there are jobs in the local community really motivates students and gives them a clear target of what they need to do to get them. It can encourage students who may have left school at the end of Year 12 to stay on and finish Year 13 with some good qualifications.

“Without health and safety training, for example, employers in construction won’t take someone on, because safety is essential on building sites. So they get that training.”

The range of practical courses also includes training in forklift driving, site traffic management and scaffold erection.

Auckland Airport runs an employment hub, Ara, to link potential employers, training providers, jobs brokers and the wider community, including schools.

“Ara is one of our community partners, as is HLC,” says Tom. “What we’re doing is providing diverse pathways for students to choose from – as well as university, some will go straight into work after graduation, in areas such as construction or hospitality, while others go into apprenticeships or further studies at Manukau Institute of Technology.”

More flexibility gives better results

Out of 14 students in the Year 13 Vocational Pathways class at Mangere College last year, 13 achieved NCEA Level 3 and this contributed to the best results ever for the school at Level 3.

Tom says the majority of those students have moved on to a job, training or apprenticeship.

He says, “Before, there wasn’t an awareness of the different pathways that could be taken. Parents would say, ‘My son’s going to leave and do such-and-such’, so everything was cut and dried, and there wasn’t any discussion about alternatives.

“Now, because of our partnerships, there’s much more flexibility and we’re keeping everyone informed, including parents, as to the range of choices, and what is involved in each pathway.”

Hawkins Construction is one of the largest employers in the airport zone and company spokesman Gary Walker says that over the past two years Ara has given 89 students real work experience through its subcontractor network, and that is opening up new opportunities and networks across the industry.

“What is gratifying,” he says, “is the confidence and self-belief that the students show at the end of the programme, having become part of the world of work.”

Tips for teachers

  • Leverage partnerships
  • Connect – go to public meetings that partners are holding
  • Be clear – give students confidence there is a job opportunity waiting
  • For trades, students need to taste the real environment, to ‘get their hands dirty’ with the tools they will be using in work
  • Inform parents what is needed to get into the different job areas.

Connect with Mangere College on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MangereCollege(external link)

More information about ARA(external link) 

Building a house at MIT is the real thing

For two days each week, carpentry students work as a team on building a three-bedroom house from scratch at MIT (Manukau Institute of Technology) in Otara. It takes 30 weeks to complete, and the house will be later sold by MIT. The work provides the students with real-world learning and they are supervised by Senior Lecturer Kerry Brown.

“I split them up from their mates to make it better,” says Kerry. “We encourage them to solve problems and overcome challenges. If you can be a problem solver on a site, you will do well in building.”

Students learn theory and calculations, assessing of quantities, sketch designs and keep work diaries as part of their assessment, including reflecting on what they learnt and what they can improve on. Last year, 80 per cent of the students completed their credits towards NCEA Level 3.

Transition Coordinator Stephen Tominiko works with them closely, including arranging transport and ensuring they turn up each day. He says it is important that they start to act like adults in a workplace and develop a strong work ethic.

“This is the real world of building, but on a small scale. They also learn soft skills such as commitment to attending every day, and reliability, as well as knowing how to use tools.”

What students think

Saviour is studying Automotive at MIT two days a week, to become a mechanic, and loves it. “We learn faster there than at school. We get our hands dirty with grease and work on real cars, rather than just do book learning. It’s a great learning experience.”

David is studying construction at MIT. He says it’s much more motivating for him. “It’s set me in a clear direction. At MIT it’s really hands-on and good preparation for what our future work will be, and we learn real fast.”

Next year he will be doing three days at MIT and two days at work on a building site. The students have to travel to get to MIT, and their bus fares are paid by the school.

Kamehameha says the practical part of the programme is going to give him a better chance of finding work once he graduates. “It’s important to do the practical side as well as continuing to study.”

Dominic loves the chance to put his learning into practice with the tools of the trade. “It’s hands-on and interesting. We’re learning much faster than in the classroom and getting health and safety skills as well as building skills.”

One girl from the college is among the Pathways students studying construction.

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

Posted: 10:17 am, 16 May 2019

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts