A Thames training provider has made it their mission to break the barriers to education and build confidence in their students.
Valley Education and Training Enterprises (VETEL) is a Category Two Tertiary Education Organisation registered and accredited with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
Four tutors are based out of the Kōpū office with an aim to get their students out into the workforce.
Organisation manager Mark Jennings told The Profile that while jobs were out there for people, barriers such as geography, finance, and transport stopped people from obtaining them.
Therefore, Valley Education will this year concentrate on getting their students to secure a driver licence.
“Every year we look at ourselves and try and reinvent where we are and keep up with the changes in education, that’s really important to us,” Mr Jennings said.
“And in early 2020 we started providing breakfast and lunches for our students, because some of them were having a tough time, and that was a barrier we wanted to overcome.”
On top of that, Valley Education has taken a step in a new direction by taking training “out into the field”. They’ve been approached by Māori Trusts to get their rangatahi (young people) learning on their home grounds, Mr Jennings said.
They’ve also started up a small school on a local marae, delivering their holistic style of teaching.
“Valley Education has been leading with this collaborative approach and customising courses that the community wants, and there’s a real focus on training into work,” Mr Jennings said.
“Personally, we think that’s the future of education – it’s a community responsibility and industry responsibility, and we’re trying to bring all those together to get people trained and into work.”
Courses on offer include retail, agriculture, vehicle machinery, and mechanical engineering, as well as an entry-level prep course. Every course also had a “huge emphasis” on health and safety and numeracy and literacy, he said.
Tutors could also help formulate CVs and act as referees.
“A lot of people that come here are having another go at education because traditional schools never worked out for them for one reason or another, so we’re trying to give our students a second chance,” Mr Jennings said.
“We just want our students, when they finish the course, to be 100 per cent equipped to go into the workforce.”
Around 50 per cent of Valley Education’s students go into work, while another third move into higher education.
Mr Jennings said although 2020 was a tough year for all, Covid-19 created “more of an awareness in people about training and education”.
“I think the whole country is revisiting how we deliver education, and I’d like to feel that we are spear-heading that, and we’re quite proud of that,” he said.
“Education gives people confidence, and once you’ve got that, employment opens up to you.”
One student who studied with Valley Education in 2014 was the perfect example of that.
In feedback posted on the provider’s Facebook page, a past-student detailed how they continued studying, completed a diploma, was working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science and have since purchased their own farm down south.
“There are lots of places that will teach you what to think, or what to do. I feel VETEL showed me how to access knowledge and apply it practically,” the post said.
“I gained so much confidence and enthusiasm for life in the time I studied with VETEL.”
By KELLEY TANTAU
PHOTO: The team from Valley Education, from left: Ruth Bliss, Andrea McCartney, Mark Jennings and Sonia Paton.