Schools get stronger links with industry

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South Canterbury children will get a chance to spend more time in the workforce during school time.
The move follows a recent South Canterbury Labour Market Survey that shows more needs to be done to introduce youngsters to their career options.
To do that, schools would have access to a ‘‘central hub’’ of contacts that they could call on to provide children with work experience if they were interested in a particular field.
The contacts would also be encouraged to visit schools.
Overall, the survey found people wanted more interaction between industry sectors to fill gaps in the market, while providing support and advice from people with the knowledge.
Aoraki Development chief executive Nigel Davenport said part of the survey found children needed more exposure to their career options earlier and more advice on how to obtain work or training in their chosen field.
‘‘It’s building on Gateway,’’ Mr Davenport said.
Gateway is a secondary schoolbased programme that provides pupils in years 11-13 with opportunities to access structured workplace learning over a limited period.
‘‘The Gateway programme is massive and it’s fantastic,’’ Mr Davenport said.
However, more could be done to improve it, he said.
Mr Davenport said the aim was to introduce more children to sectors of interest before they went to university, to ensure their chosen field was what they really wanted to do.
He said under the initiative, children in years 9-10 would be introduced to career possibilities of interest to them, which could also include school visits by industry professionals.
‘‘The more we can expose them [to their options] at a younger age, the quicker we can get their minds ticking over.’’
He said figures showed 30% of New Zealanders went to university atthe end of year 13 and less than half of them completed their studies.
‘‘We need to expose them to as many opportunities as possible so they can make that fully informed decision.’’
Roncalli College principal Chris Comeau supports the concept.
‘‘I’m fully in favour of it. It links up schools with industry and gives us a better idea of what industry is wanting.
‘‘We need to make our students aware of what’s possible and what’s available.’’
At the moment, schools had to rely on their own contacts to provide pupils with information.
However, that would be broadened by having a central hub of information and contacts, which would be made accessible to all schools.
‘‘They will have more opportunity to be involved in the workforce . . .because we’ll have more input from industries and more connections.’’
Timaru Boys’ High School rector Nick McIvor was also supportive of the initiative.
‘‘This initiative gives our secondary schools a way to adapt student learning and qualifications more directly to what local employers really need.’’