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Programmes link education to jobs

Liki Udam Aug 8
Programmes link education to jobs
Students work on building a 108sqm relocatable bach as part of scheme to prepare young Taranaki people for an employment environment.

Taranaki Futures connects education to employment through a variety of programmes designed to bridge the gap between the constantly evolving worlds and help educators and employers better understand how their worlds can most effectively work together.

Now in its fourth year, Taranaki Futures’ joint venture with Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) Build a Bach is seeing the confidence of Taranaki construction industry students go up along with the walls of the building.

Since 2014, Build a Bach has provided from nine to 15 WITT students who are ready for work experience the opportunity to build an entire new building on a real life building site with health and safety protocols and timelines and high quality standards.

“This is learning that’s preparing them for an employment environment,” says Taranaki Futures general manager Warwick Foy.

“The hardest thing for young people is they can’t find employment because they don’t have experience, and they can’t get experience because no one will let them near a building site.

“Our goal is driving towards employment and we’ve had very good results. Last year, seven out of nine students were employed, while the other two went off to do other things. We always get about eight out of 10 students employed.”

Taranaki Futures has drawn on its connections with community minded firms to help construction students gain that valuable work experience beyond the Build a Bach programme.

The local Carston Construction, Pepper Construction, and Clelands Construction have all become go to companies for Taranaki Futures, and others are now also helping out or showing an interest in helping out.

“These firms get access to skilled young men and women, and they just like to give back to the community,” Warwick says.

The 2017 bach, a 108sqm transportable home, is under construction on the WITT campus, is on the market and will be completed in November.

As well as Build a Bach, Taranaki Futures also provides an Accelerator Mentoring scheme, where this year 95 students spend an hour a day during term two in a workplace, and receive business mentoring and personal coaching around employability.

“They can learn a lot in an hour, and they can form very good relationships with employers who may offer internships or employment,” Warwick says.

“This year we’ve got anything and everything from the medical profession, we’ve got a fireman, builders obviously, a geopoliticist, and a baker who makes pancakes that go all over the world.”

Warwick says Taranaki Futures is now looking to open the lines of communication with educators.

“Even our young people who go off to university are not necessarily work-ready,” he says.

“Employers have to extend their training for the workplace location. It’s not just about employment, but it’s so important, because everybody intends to be employed at the end of it.”

Taranaki Futures is now working with the large, urban, single sex New Plymouth Boys High School and the co-ed rural Opunake High School on the pilot of a financial capability project, with the aim of increasing the pupils’ financial competence.

“What we always come back to is, our kids get jobs.”

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