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Trades Academies at RBHS

Rotorua Boys’ High School has introduced two new trades academies that will allow students to gain hands-on building and engineering experience in the hope of helping to alleviate trades shortages in the community.

This year the school launched a Building Trades Academy (BTA) and an Engineering Trades Academy (ETA), which Raukura principal Chris Grinter said was timely given the strong need for trades people in New Zealand.

“We increasingly see boys now moving through our school, who are exploring pathways other than on to university so there is demand for programmes like this,” Grinter said.

“We hope to produce a pool of well-prepared apprenticeship-ready, work-ready young men for the trades people of our city,” he said.

While on sabbatical in 2021, Grinter explored options to ensure these two programmes could be available in 2022, with both receiving a strong uptake from students undertaking the new pathways this year.

“We are very fortunate to have three qualified builders, a qualified plumber and electrician on the staff,” Grinter said.

Support from outside agencies has also meant more opportunities for the students.

As part of the building programme, students learn skills and gain experience while supporting the community by building homes for those who need them as part of a partnership with Kāinga Ora. Raukura is the first Bay of Plenty school to offer this programme following in the footsteps of secondary schools and tertiary providers in Auckland, Northland, Marlborough, Wellington and the Hawke’s Bay.

Year 13 BTA student Te Kura Tawhara has been enjoying the practical side of his new school work. He said he wanted to be a builder when he left school and being part of this programme helped him to learn skills and gain experience, which would only help him pursue a career in the industry in the future.

Leading the BTA is director Lawrance King with support from teacher Geordie Hemopo Gibson, both of whom are excited to be part of an initiative that not only helps young people achieve their goals but also benefits an industry they love.

“It’s all about the kids as far as i'm concerned. They're getting an opportunity to be employed in a trade that's going to take them places,” King said.

He believed the students will get a kick out of being able to show their family members houses they’ve helped build.

King has worked in the building industry for more than 30 years and in that time has been self-employed, worked as a maintenance technician for Lockwood Homes and built architectural houses as well as residential houses and commercial buildings.

Gibson, who did his apprenticeship working on high-end homes in Wellington, was living in Tauranga where he managed the Mount Maunganui Surf Life Saving Club’s rebuild and worked in residential construction before coming to Raukura.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the boys progress from the start and the look on their faces when they get to see a fully finished house when it leaves the driveway,” he said.

Kāinga Ora programme director Nick Seymour said as a former tradie he was proud of the way the academy programmes had developed, and the ongoing partnership with the Ministry of Education and schools involved.

“It’s great to see these pathways with our tradies of tomorrow, and working together we can contribute towards giving people a place to call home, while creating future opportunities for our young people,” Seymour said.

The benefits from this programme are far-reaching, with students able to learn skills and gain experience; people in need of a home being able to move into a home built by these students; and the wider community and economy can thrive through the partnership growing a pipeline of young people with trade skills.

Kāinga Ora Bay of Plenty regional director Darren Toy said the partnership was a great example of school and government working together in a positive and meaningful way.

“As well as this partnership being an exciting opportunity for students to gain lifelong skills, building these much-needed modern, warm and dry homes for local whānau and tamariki also helps contribute to building a stronger and more connected community.”

The Engineering Trades Academy will be led by director Mark Elers, who was eager to see the boys leave his programme as confident young tradesmen.

“I want to create the next tradesmen, help these boys get jobs, learn skills that they can use in the future so I’ve got a great opportunity to do that here,” Elers said.

“It's a trade-based practical class where, by the end of the year, we want them to leave school and straight into apprenticeships. To get skills and competency in machinery and tools, that's what the industry’s been yelling out for … there's a shortage in apprentices at the moment and we always want them to go straight in and be confident with the tools,” Elers said.

Elers is no stranger to Raukura, having been associated with the school since 1998 when his son attended the school before coaching basketball.

“The excitement for me is that I get to be part of these kids’ lives and maybe futures. I've done that through basketball teams here but these trades skills are something they can hold on to forever.”

 

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