Fees-free learning helps students

Posted on 2016-09-06 by CM

Author - Karen Hughes, Wanganui Midweek


A free training programme for youth is providing a favourable alternative in tertiary education.
Under the government's Youth Guarantee scholarship fund, the Training For You - Working With Children programme is fees-free for young people aged 16-19 years, with other funding options available for those over 20.

Open to all learners who have left secondary school, participants have the opportunity to graduate with NCEA Level 2, with a Vocational Pathway in Social and Community Services. The programme also offers credits towards a Level 3 National Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care. Delivered at the Whanganui campus, the 20-week course includes practical activities, work experience in local childcare centres and field visits. The Training For You students headed to Whanganui UCOL's campus to see the Nursing programme in action there, as part of the healthcare module.

Working with Children tutor Amy Fitzgerald says the focus in a vocational direction for youth is appealing. "School leavers understand the importance of gaining NCEA credits, but finally being able to get credits in a specific vocation - that's a drawcard." In a recurring issue for tertiary education, statistics are showing around $15 billion of debt through student loans is currently shared by around 720,000 New Zealanders. However, Training For You's youth students are already ahead of the game, enrolled on courses that are fees-free for their age group, and include support with travel costs. As well as Working With Children, Training For You provides fees-free study options for all ages in Healthcare, Business Administration Computing, and intensive literacy and numeracy.

Youth student Mandy Miller, on the Working With Children programme, is happy to be learning in an environment that she feels is a good fit. "It's easy to learn here, they find out what your learning styles are. I looked around at a few courses but this one seemed more appealing to me because it is dealing with kids, and helps get you into a career, with work experience." Mandy was encouraged towards the programme by her friend Mika Gordon, who says she would recommend the course to anyone. "I've recommended it to a few of my mates. For people who aren't going to school, it's a really good opportunity, rather than just doing nothing. Plus you get qualifications."

The need for qualifications is important for parents and caregivers as well. Mandy's father Paul Miller had genuine concerns about his daughter wanting to leave school without her Level 2 qualification. However, he is pleased that she is engaged in a training programme where she could achieve that by the end of the year. "Initially I was disappointed. Now I'm really proud of the fact that she got herself together and decided the next course of action was to come to Training For You and have a look at the early childhood programme avenue of training. And the fact that she could carry on doing her Level 2."

Paris Schlegel is another recruit to the course, from the same circle of friends. She moved to Whanganui last year and after leaving school at 15, joined Training For You. She was drawn towards the Working With Children programme by Mika and Mandy. As friends, the girls are enjoying learning together. "It makes it a lot easier to adapt to everything, and we haven't excluded ourselves from others on the course. We have made new friends and they're all lovely people as well, really caring, and make you feel really welcome," "Mika says. "We did activities that formed bonds - team-building exercises - and that was really helpful for forming new friendships." The affection extends not only to classmates, but to their course instructor too. "We like Amy's teaching style, she's really down to earth, she gets along really well with us. We all have good laughs with her. She's really considerate as well, and understanding. She respects us. And the respect goes both ways." Amy Fitzgerald sees the benefits of young people studying alongside their friends. "It's important to have a strong culture (in the class) where everyone gets along, and works together - like you would in a workplace."


wanganui midweek

LEARNERS: Youth students at Training For You, enrolled on the Working With Children programme: (Back row from left) Wavell Madams, Eden Stone, Paris Schlegel, Mandy Miller, Mika Gordon, (Front row from left) Larissa Wroe-Doyle, Leigh-Ann Volwerk, Jonelle Muir.