education.govt.nz

Students get early start on job skills

Issue: Volume 96, Number 18

Posted: 16 October 2017
Reference #: 1H9fQg

Every Friday at 6am, 18-year-old student Onosai Lavemai begins his day of work experience on a construction site at the airport.

The student, from Southern Cross Campus College, wants to work in the building industry and says this experience has taught him what is most important in workplaces. “I’ve learnt that safety is the most important thing,” he says.

Southern Cross student Onosai Lavemai, 18, learning trades skills from Graeme Cox, building services manager at Hawkins Construction. Hawkins is one of the companies supporting Ara.

Onosai and dozens of other students are learning job skills, thanks to a construction-based work experience scheme linking high schools to potential workplaces in South Auckland.

The scheme is run by Ara, Auckland Airport’s jobs and skills hub, which is a partnership between the airport, the South Auckland community, local employers, government agencies, Auckland Council, local schools and training providers. It provides students with a chance to gain that practical knowledge, make contacts and get a foot in the door. Ara is based close to where Onosai lives and goes to school. He’s now in his final year and he’s taking the opportunity to get his first solid work experience towards a career.

For four days a week, he studies building and construction at the Trades Academy at Southern Cross Campus in Māngere, and that’s giving him strong foundation skills in building.

The academy was created recently in stage one of a complete upgrade of the school’s facilities. Stage two is now underway, and includes a new teaching block.

The Ara work experience scheme is a key part of the school’s strategy for helping students get into work or further training. Every Friday it allows Onosai and his classmates to put theory into practice.

The scheme began last year with four students taking part. This year it’s 68 and the aim is to have 50 students involved from the local area at any one time.

Onosai says, “We can’t be even five minutes late in the morning! The best thing is the opportunity of a job and work experience in the industry I want to work in, and maybe going to university – the worst part is having to get up so early,” he laughs.

Initially shy in the company of adults, he says he’s learnt to open up and communicate with everyone on the site.

“I have to talk all the time, communicate constantly, discuss what needs to be done, and ask questions and listen carefully at our daily toolbox session every morning about what will be happening and the processes on a construction site. I never did that much talking with my mates or at school.”

Like the other students taking part this year, he now knows about safety, and the demanding rules and requirements that must be followed, as a worksite could be closed if there is an incident or someone is harmed.

Southern Cross Campus principal Robin Staples says his students need to understand the real world beyond school – including being punctual, writing a CV, good communication and knowing the safety laws. He calls what they get from Ara “bridge learning”, as it fills the gaps.

“The students have no work experience reality beyond their immediate lives, and are focused on their peers. We create wider awareness to make them good employees with potential for further responsibility. This is an essential skill for their future.

“They need to know, for example, that there are strict safety regulations on the job. Every day, they need to turn up on time. Those are important lessons to learn. We give them that knowledge, plus a network of contacts to bridge the gaps in their knowledge.

“We’re working to create a seamless pathway from school to work and careers and it’s been more successful than we imagined.” 

Ara is a partnership between Auckland Airport, the South Auckland community, Fletchers, Hawkins and other local employers, government agencies – the ministries of Social Development; Business, Innovation and Employment; Education, and the Tertiary Education Commission – Auckland Council, local schools and tertiary institutes, industry training organisations and training providers.

Ara is staffed by the Ministry of Social Development and industry training organisations The Skills Organisation, Service IQ and BCITO.

Ara is currently working with more than 100 employers to place people into jobs and training, including head contractors on the airport’s redevelopment programme, Fletchers and Hawkins.

For more information, visit www.araskills.org.nz(external link).

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

Posted: 9:00 am, 16 October 2017

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