Discussing the outcomes of the U-Skills trades academy for high school students was the purpose of a visit from the Minister of Education, Hon Hekia Parata to UCOL this week.
Minister Parata visited UCOL in Palmerston North on Tuesday, to meet the team successfully working with schools and students' families to help students develop their career choices.
U-Skills Central Schools Academy is a Trades Academy run through UCOL with a range of programmes designed to guide school students through a vocational pathway with the support of school. It is open to students from the Manawatu, Whanganui, Wairarapa, Rangitikei, Ruapehu, Horowhenua and Tararua areas, providing them with tertiary learning one day a week.
The Minister visited UCOL accompanied by Ministry of Education Director for Education, Jann Marshall and Palmerston North List MP Jono Naylor.
U-Skills Transition Manager Jaime Court says it was an honour to have the opportunity to showcase to the Minister the positive outcomes in the transition of students from high school into tertiary education, and the support UCOL has in place for students in programmes from Level 1-4.
"Our support includes UCOL, the student, their school and their families. We are able to provide a supportive stepping stone to students, giving them a taste of tertiary with the support of friends, routine and school."
"We were also able to report that there was a 50-50 even split of young woman and men in the U-Skills 2015 programmes, something quite unique for trades."
U-Skills was started with a handful of students 69 students in 2012 and had grown to over 350 by 2016 with 16 schools participating at the start to 36 in 2015, and more now, participating in the programme.
Ms Court attributes the high success rate to the well-established relationship between UCOL, the schools and the students and their families. "Our outcomes for the region are well above the national averages".
While at UCOL Minister Parata met with UCOL Chief Executive Leeza Boyce, UCOL Executive Director Education and Applied Research Dr Jerry Shearman; UCOL Director Maori Teina Mataira, U-Skills Transition Manager Jaime Court, and UCOL Executive Dean Trades and Technology Dr Nicky Van der Bergh.
The Minister said of the group on her Facebook page after the visit, "this inspiring and passionate team is successfully working with schools and employers to help students develop their passions into careers".