Te Wānanga o Aotearoa tauira (students) are being snapped up for careers in forestry thanks to close collaboration with industry and on the job learning.
The tauira on the 22-week Certificate in Forestry Industry Foundation Skills at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (TwoA) in Rotorua are earning the unit standards they need for their qualification while getting paid to plant future forests.
TWoA kaiako Shand Edwardson works with forestry stakeholders including Mahi Rākau, Māori and Pacific Islands Trades, Timberlands and Vertical Horizons, to better understand what employers want and what his tauira need with their training to have them fully work-ready.
Shand, who has taught the Rotorua programme for the past three years and has managed forestry projects in New Zealand, Malaysia and Ghana, says by working alongside industry he has been able to pinpoint what’s necessary with their coursework for tauira to succeed.
“We found that there were unit standards in there (the programme) that were just more or less filling space so we changed it around after talking to some of our stakeholders.”
“We also know that you need a lot of unit standards to work in forestry these days but the problem with our students was they can’t understand what they’re reading without getting their hands on things.”
“So instead we go out into the bush and show them how to do these (unit standards) things like planting, fertilising and even nutrition. It’s work-based learning that works.”
Shand says the on the job-learning approach that results in qualified tauira and work-ready empolyees is appreciated by both his students and their future employers.
To illustrate this point, Shand says tauira numbers remained at close to 100 per cent while learning out in the field as opposed to in the classroom, where attendance fell away markedly and quickly.
“The first year we piloted this, one of our classes was in the classroom all the time and our kaiako lost most of their students in the first semester. These are tauira who hate the classroom so if you can give them something that is 60 per cent hands on then you will hold on to them.”
He says 92 per cent of tauira who have come through this programme over the past three years are now either employed or have gone on to further study.
“I have these kids for three months and they’re going onto earn $1200 a week and some of them are 16 or 17 years old. When you’re earning between $30 and $40 an hour at that age, it’s good money.”
“The majority of them are going into forestry, the rest go between sawmills and traffic control.”