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Students, left, Luke Cryer and Sean Underwood in the workshop. Photo: SUPPLIED

New academy shapes young engineers

Equipping students with the right skills, education and experience in the trades world is exactly what Hauraki Plains College has set out to do with the introduction of a brand new course.
The Trade Experience Academy kicked off at the secondary school this year, and consisted of building and construction, engineering, design and visual communication, and work experience.
Students who applied for the course needed to go through an interview process. Not only were students assessed on how they interviewed, their pastoral reports were also reviewed, which showed their behaviour from over the years at the high school.
Students were then shortlisted, with only 18 successful applicants making it into the class, and just like applying for employment, students were asked to sign a contract as part of the process.
If students “muck around”, they will get a letter sent home and could potentially lose their place in the class.
Head of technology Kyle Backhouse told The Profile the idea was to expose students to a range of different trades and help prepare them for that space.
Students would have a “good grounding and good idea of what it’s about” once they left school and joined the workforce, he said.

Students would be trained on how to safely use all the gear they would potentially use in the industry “so when they are on site, they can be trusted”, Mr Backhouse said.
Year 12 student Sean Underwood was one of the successful applicants who made it into the course.
“I chose it because I would like to get an apprenticeship or something after school.”
Sean said he had been doing work experience at Thames Structural Welders, and it was his favourite part of the course so far.
“[I] quite enjoy it.”
Most of the time, people at Sean’s workplace would help him out with things and then “leave me to it”, he said. “If I need anything, I start talking.”
Sean said he had been working on a truck for the past couple of Fridays.
“[Working on the] starter motor, alternator, engine rebuild, basically the whole truck,” he said.
When asked about what skills and experience he’d like to gain during the course, Sean said he was interested in building his knowledge in engineering.
Sean said he hadn’t found many challenges during the course so far, except for the design drawing because it was new to him.

Fellow classmate Luke Cryer said he chose the course to get more experience in the engineering world.
“I want to learn how to do more tech drawing so I can design my own stuff as well, so I can design something and make it for a company,” he said.
The 15-year-old said he had been doing work experience for his Dad’s business at Bedford Parts, and would carry on with work experience at Silver Fern Farms once he turned 16, working in maintenance and diagnostics engineering.
“It’s kind of what I want to do.
“My Dad did a maintenance and diagnostics apprenticeship and he’s taught me a bit about it.”
For students interested in doing the course, Sean and Luke said just give it a go.
“Don’t be hesitant to do it,” Sean said.
“Just sign up for it and then do your interview and if you get into it – try your best and don’t give up.”
Meanwhile, the school was working on another new course called Unleashed Product Design – Makerspace, where students will explore principles of the design industry.