Work-fit students ready to start employment have been pipped at the post “time and time again” for one simple reason: the lack of a driver licence.
Now, Valley Education is taking it upon themselves to start driver training and education, to further help the community secure jobs around the district.
“What we’ve found is many people, including our learners and clients, are finding it hard to access driver training and defensive driving courses,” Valley Education owner Andrea McCartney said.
“So what we’ve done is we’ve trained up one of our own, and he is now a driving instructor and on his way to becoming a defensive driving deliverer.
“We intend to provide driving lessons and regular courses for defensive driving covering the eastern Waikato, starting with Thames and then going out to Paeroa, Waihi, and Te Aroha where we’re needed.”
The car is also available for driver testing.
Valley Education is a Tertiary Training Organisation registered with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).
They aim to get their students out into the workforce by breaking down barriers such as geography, finance, and transport.
“One of the primary focuses that Valley Education is removing is barriers to employment,” organisation manager Mark Jennings said.
“You can train someone up, and they can be ready to have a job, but no driver’s license equates to no job. Employers want somebody who can drive a car for many reasons and it’s also a pathway to independence.” Some people had also been driving around on a learner’s licence for up to 15 years, he said. “They need to be encouraged to progress through the process and it’s up to us to make it as easy as possible.”
As well as the in-house driving education initiative, Valley Education was also lobbying for more driver license testing availability in the district.
Due to the number of people from out of town opting to sit their driver test in Thames, there was a wait time of up to 10-12 weeks, Andrea McCartney said.
“We’re really under-served, and it’s not fair. So we do have the next barrier – timely access for driving testing, something we are also lobbying for.”
The driving lessons have begun at Valley Education, and the defensive driving courses will follow soon.
Pete Kerr will be the man in the passenger seat, and he said communication was the key to any driver education.
“It’s totally different here than it is in Auckland… there’s no public transport, and if they can’t get from A to Z, it’s the people that will suffer,” he said.
To get in touch with Valley Education and speak to Pete, contact the office: Ph 07 868 7892 or txt 027 314 1577.
By KELLEY TANTAU
PHOTO: Pete Kerr is Valley Education’s new driving instructor, and he said communication was the key. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU