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Ara expands on local delivery for South Canterbury trades apprentices

Ara Institute of Canterbury has been working alongside other tertiary education providers to provide flexible trades training for South Canterbury apprentices – showing that collaboration is key to development and shared success within the Te Pūkenga network.

South Canterbury trades employers are buzzing with the news that their year three electrical apprentices can now undertake part-time study at Ara Institute of Canterbury in Timaru, while continuing to work locally in the region.

An agreement between Ara Institute of Canterbury and The Skills Organisation Incorporated (Skills), sees Ara deliver the Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory & Practice (Trade) Level 4, to Skills Electrical apprentices (Year 3), at Ara’s Timaru campus.

There are currently six apprentices enrolled in the programme who are attending Ara for face-to-face training one day per fortnight, for the duration of their third apprenticeship year. 

Following consultation with local industry, including Skills and Venture Timaru, it was determined this delivery model was the best option for apprentices and employers, since it spaces out time spent away from the workplace.

Dr Glynnis Brook, Executive Director of Academic, Innovation and Research at Ara says, 

“As a region, South Canterbury continues to enjoy high employment rates, meaning the number of people taking part in on-the-job training and apprenticeships is on the rise. Working with industry partners and other Te Pūkenga institutes, Ara can help open new doors for learners, in terms of providing accessible, regional learning which is tailored to local needs.”

Ara's provision of this electrical course at the Timaru campus is welcome news for local industry, to be able to train and retain skilled electrical workers in the region.

Erin McNaught, Director of Business Services & People at Industrial Controls says, “We have always recommended that those looking for an electrical career complete Level 2 and 3 at Ara to kickstart an apprenticeship. The ability to now continue off-job training locally with Ara towards completion of the Level 4 qualification is of real benefit to both apprentices and their employers.”

Another industry collaboration resulting in a new delivery is the Painting and Decorating Block Course which Ara is contracted to deliver for stage one BCITO apprentices, with intakes in July and October. 

Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Woolston campus in Christchurch has traditionally been the only provider in the South Island to deliver block courses in painting and decorating. In 2021, Venture Timaru and Master Painters NZ (the national representative body for the painting industry) jointly approached BCITO about catering to local apprentices in South Canterbury .

Grant Jenkins, owner of Grant Jenkins Contracting in Timaru says, “To have apprentices undertake training at Ara in Timaru means that our workers can learn from the comfort of their hometown. We’ve also found that it’s been a tremendous help for our apprentices to have local training on a campus that’s purpose built for our trades, with great facilities and amenities.”

As well as partnering with Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) in South Canterbury, Ara has also been assisting Otago Polytechnic in the set-up of a BCITO Painting and Decorating Block Course in the Otago region.

Brook says this is an exciting time for South Canterbury. “Ara’s industry connections and Te Pūkenga network partnerships are critical in giving learners more choices and flexibility in what, where and how they learn. Learning that fits around life, rather than having to fit life around learning.” 

Nigel Davenport, Chief Executive at Venture Timaru says the Timaru District's economic and tourism agency is thrilled to see both the electrical and painting and decorating courses being provided locally to meet the needs of industry. 

“It’s been great to work collaboratively with industry representatives and the group of training providers, brought together by Ara, to make this a reality. The innovative, flexible and can-do approach by all involved has been fantastic.”

Davenport acknowledges the upcoming developments in the region which are going to rely heavily on local trades resource, exacerbated by the lack of international workers entering New Zealand due to the pandemic.  

“We are entering a period of unparalleled development and construction in the district across key projects such as the Scott Base Redevelopment build, the Theatre/Heritage project and the extension to Aorangi Stadium. There are so many opportunities for our rangatahi to be part of it all. It is therefore hugely important that we add even more locally based training options going forward, especially for our construction and trades sectors, to provide training in a way that first and foremost works best for industry and their workforce.”