Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) has begun community and industry consultation on a Regional Trades and Technical Skills Training Centre for the Wellington region. The centre will be based at WelTec’s Petone campus and provide a physical entry point for trade and technical education.
WelTec chief executive Dr Linda Sissons says as well as delivering training, the centre will be aimed at educating people and the community about trades and technical opportunities, and helping provide ready advice and solutions for industry. “Businesses in the Wellington region are finding it hard to get skilled staff,” Dr Sissons says.
“As well as the full employment situation, there are not enough young people entering trades to replace those who are about to retire. It’s an opportunity for the young but a serious issue for industry. “There is a general lack of understanding among young people of the opportunities in trades and technical fields.
They, their care givers and even their school advisors seem to have an affection for university educations that could actually be limiting their options for the future.” Dr Sissons says WelTec is the logical regional hub for the centre as it is the leading provider of this learning in the Wellington region.
It is also New Zealand’s largest provider of Industry Training Organisation (ITO) contracted training. WelTec has received a $2.4 million grant from the government’s Innovation and Development Fund (IDF) for the development of the centre.
The grant is aimed at building WelTec’s capacity to meet the needs of the Government Tertiary Education Strategy, as well as national goals. “The grant is recognition that WelTec can further enhance the economic strength of the region and the country.
“We are working with schools, ITOs, employers and other polytechnics in the region to ensure we meet needs and deliver a seamless transition for students from school into training and eventually employment.“The response from the community is enthusiastic.
Those we’ve spoken to see this as a place that will connect people and skills, as well as helping employers, students, community groups and WelTec work better together.” Neville Wagstaff is enthusiastic about the prospect of the centre.
He is workshop manager for Stones Electrical in Paraparaumu, a company employing 37 electrical workers, including 10 trainees. He says there is a strong perception, particularly by parents, that tradespeople are at the bottom of the career ladder.
“That just isn’t the case,” he says. “Tradespeople make far more coming out of their training than the average university graduate. And they only have very slight training costs. “So hopefully the centre will work with schools, help get more information out there and lift the perception of the trades generally.
“We need more young people because we’ve got a massive generational disappearance as guys retire. It’s not going to be easy to solve, and a short-term solution won’t fix it. We need the quality people coming up.”