Automotive students rev up

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The first group of WITT Te Pūkenga New Zealand Certificate in Light Automotive Engineering (level 4) ākonga have graduated with most going into apprenticeships or work in the industry.

The level 4 programme was introduced directly in response to ākonga and industry demand.

“The level 3 ākonga wanted to get more knowledge and build their confidence before they started applying for work,” says WITT Te Pūkenga Deputy Director Trades Kerrie Thomson-Booth.

Both programmes are an 80 to 20 split of practical work to theory.

The step up to the level 4 programme sees ākonga work on client’s cars through Te Whare Pūkaha, The Engine Room.

The Engine Room replicates a real workshop environment, right down to the reception area which requires ākonga to practise their customer service skills right alongside their technical skills.

“It’s low stress and has less time pressure so you have time to perfect your skills and ask questions,” says ākonga Jamie Brett who has completed the level 3 and 4 programmes, building on his high school education at New Plymouth Boys High School.

The benefit for industry of employing ākonga with the level 4 qualifications is these ākonga are part way through their apprenticeship training and do not need as much supervising and mentoring on the job as they already know their way around a workshop and can do basic servicing and repairs.

“We’ve had good industry feedback on the growth of knowledge and confidence they’ve seen in the students,” says Kerrie.

There’s a shortage of skilled staff in the automotive and engineering sector and the job prospects and opportunity for progression are good.

A traditional career path sees ākonga take on an apprenticeship and work their way up through leadership positions to business owner. Alternatively, people can move into service advisor roles and parts role or use their transferable skills and move into the oil and gas industry. Others, like Kerrie and her team of kaiako, have taken their knowledge and enjoyment of mentoring others into education and are training the next generation of mechanics.

“The tutors are packed full of knowledge from their own time working in the industry and provide a safe environment to learn effectively,” says graduate Jaap Van Zoeren who has an apprenticeship with a local Toyota dealership.

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