Polytechnic welcomes trade training initiative

Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern
Otago Polytechnic has welcomed a Government initiative to expand trade training as Dunedin faces a construction boom and the need for workers to make it happen.

First on that list is the new Dunedin Hospital, which planners have said will require more than 1000 workers.

The Government announced this week it was increasing the number of places available in two secondary school initiatives that encourage school leavers to work in trades.

The initiative means funding for 2000 more Trades Academy places from next year, and up to 2000 more places for Gateway, which gives senior school pupils access to structured workplace learning, integrated with school-based learning.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government wanted to reverse a long-term decline in trades training.

''We want more people to see careers in areas like building, plumbing and agriculture as an attractive and first option when they leave school, to close the persistent skills gap in our country.''

Ministry of Education acting sector enablement and support deputy secretary Coralanne Child said through the Otago Secondary-Tertiary College, led by Otago Polytechnic, 44 students from nine Dunedin schools had participated in a Trades Academy course in the year to June 2019.

Pupils had undertaken training in areas including construction and infrastructure, manufacturing and technology and service industries.

Ms Child said an allocation process would be undertaken this month and next, to assign the 2000 new places for next year.

The polytechnic said it planned to apply for additional places, as schools were clamouring for more.

Chief executive Phil Ker said he welcomed the Government's expansion of the trade training initiatives.

He said over the next eight to 10 years, it was expected Dunedin would experience a construction boom worth more than $3billion, including the hospital build.

''So any Government-level policy that bolsters training and education to allay a well-recognised skills shortage is to be welcomed.''

In addition to school leavers, the polytechnic had identified women as a key potential workforce for the construction sector.

''We encourage women to enter the trades.''

Mr Ker said the construction sector should not be regarded in a narrow ''trades'' focus.

The building boom would require a broad range of skills, including architects, designers, quantity surveyors, civil engineers and planning experts.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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