South Island students have the opportunity to learn work skills in tandem with their schooling, thanks to an initiative by Canterbury education provider ARA Institute.
ARA is working with more than 50 secondary schools across the region, from Oamaru to Kaikoura, to supplement school subject choices through its Dual Pathway programme, a range of part-time, skills-based courses offering students alternatives to what is provided at school.
It allows them to stay in school while still working towards their career goals. Courses offered range from business studies, trade skills and hospitality to digital technologies and engineering.
All courses lead toward tertiary qualifications to further develop the skills required for specific careers and are fully funded at no extra cost to students.
More than 2,000 have enrolled in the programme since the programme started in 2011, and demand continues to increase year-on-year with above 600 students enrolling in 2018.
Alok Chander, a year 13 student from Christchurch Boys’ High School said: “When I came to New Zealand two years ago, I couldn’t find anything similar offered in technology, so I was grateful when I got the opportunity to join the digital technologies course.”
Dan Bublik, a year 13 student from Shirley Boys’ High School, has also been studying digital technologies. “At school, they have an ICT course, but it doesn’t really cover programming and networking, which is much more specific to my interests,” he said.
Courses are delivered at ARA campuses or at schools. “It’s about creating a different learning environment to the school environment,” said ARA engagement manager Emma West.