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Students with their minibikes (from left) Kane Tuirirangi, Jacob Marr, Jon Smith, Joshua Flick, Isaac Hargraves- Darren, Terry Weaver, Laurence Carter and Dylan Mokotupu. Students did the New Zealand Certifi cate in Foundation Skills _ Introduction to Automotive and Engineering course at Ara's Timaru campus

by Claire Allison

Construction of their minibikes now complete, Ara students are excited to take their new wheels for a spin.

Ara tutor John Edwards is proud of the work his 10 students put in.

“This project really tests their abilities in both engineering and automotive components. They’ve all learnt skills across the board, including welding, fabrication, machining, material bending, fitting, and motor assembly.”

The students are from the New Zealand Certificate in Foundation Skills – Introduction to Automotive and Engineering – a Level 2 pre-trade course that aims to provide 16- to 19-year-old students with the core skills and practical experiences to help them discover careers in the engineering and automotive industries.

Mr Edwards said the overall goal with the programme was to eventually get more qualified tradespeople into local workplaces in South Canterbury.

The outcome of this year’s programme is looking bright, as all 10 students intend to continue on to a level 3 trades course in 2019. Following the level 2 New Zealand Certificate in Foundation Skills students can choose further study in automotive, general engineering and engineering strands in fabrication or welding.

Jon Smith (17) with the minibike he made in Ara’s New Zealand Cer tificate in Foundation Skills _ Introduction to Automotive and Engineering course in Timaru.

Jon Smith (17) said he enjoyed learning new skills for automotive and engineering work and using equipment for welding and machining to create the bike.

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey said it was great to see young people exploring local career opportunities.

“Quite often there’s a perception that we all have to leave home for something better. So I think exposure and hands-on training at a lower level is really important because it sets people up on a career path, which can vary as they go through.

“Timaru has some of the largest primary and secondary manufacturing companies in the district, and there’s a high demand for trained and skilled workpeople. Local companies are investing greatly in new technology, equipment and plant, and it always takes ongoing training and upskilling to make sure we have the right workforce to go into those roles.”

Ara’s manager of automotive and autobody, Peter Sauer, said a lot of pupils left school not sure what they wanted to do for a career.

“Here at Ara Trades we provide opportunities for people to explore trade options while gaining practical skills.”

Next year, to meet the growing needs of local industry, Ara will launch new level 4 managed apprenticeships in the engineering trades at the Timaru campus. These are the New Zealand Certificate in Mechanical Engineering (Trade) and the New Zealand Certificate in Engineering Fabrication (Trade).