Free English language course begins

Southern Lakes English College director of studies Kathy Gaze is running a free course aimed at...
Southern Lakes English College director of studies Kathy Gaze is running a free course aimed at migrants in the primary sector.PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A free English language course for Central Otago’s migrant workers in the primary sector got under way this week.

Developed and delivered by SIT’s Southern Lakes English College, the course is being delivered online four evenings a week over four weeks, and is aimed at workers and their families at two levels, depending on English competency.

Depending on demand, the short course could lead to the establishment of a full-length online English language programme at the Queenstown-based college.

According to migration statistics, as of May 7 it was estimated there were 30,000-40,000 visitors in New Zealand. Visitors’ prolonged stay in the country contributed to high estimates of migrant arrivals and net migration between late 2019 and early 2020.

In 2020, 5.55% of the employees were active in the agricultural sector, 19.4% in industry and 75.05% in the service sector.

The free course initiative was the result of discussions with representatives of the college, who moved quickly to set up and trial a programme, Southern Lakes English College chief executive Bharat Guha said.

Discussion took place with DairyNZ, Central Otago District Council, REAP and the PrimaryITO about ways to support migrant workers in the primary sector, PrimaryITO training adviser Vicky Bowman said.

‘‘Farming is becoming more and more technical, and clear communication is vital. So everything that we can do to help improve the English skills of staff is a real win for the sectors.’’

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan

said, ‘‘Migrant workers and their families are a significant and valued part of our community. I hope that the English language skills gained through the course not only help participants in their work but also in their feeling at home in our community.’’

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