Many tradies, parents and caregivers remember the first picture frame or coffee table project made at school, under the watchful eye of a workshop technology teacher. “These specialist teachers are the unsung heroes of the building sector and we need more of them,” says Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation Chief Executive, Warwick Quinn.
BCITO is sponsoring the first conference for technology teachers in more than five years, to celebrate a crucial part of New Zealander’s education.
“Employment forecasts estimate 80,000 new and replacement construction jobs opening in the next five years, so we need to keep and grow our skilled technology teachers. They encourage students’ early interest in construction and drive them into the trades, so their role is invaluable.
“We need to fully appreciate what they do. Many tradies say they first developed their love of building through the enthusiasm of their teachers and their hands-on experience making everything from jewellery boxes to entire houses,” Quinn says.
The number of students completing Building, Construction, and Allied Trades Skills (BCATS) programmes has increased, including 8,500 students in 265 schools nationwide, with 10 per cent of school leavers having completed a BCATS. Those students are more likely to go on to building apprenticeships, particularly through BCITO.
“It would be great if the Government made it easier for tradespeople to enter teaching after their careers as builders or in other trades because declining workshop technology teacher numbers will otherwise limit students’ opportunities.
“Many technology teachers are nearing retirement age and these are the passionate teachers who are fostering the next generation of apprentices. If we are going to deliver the $100 billion construction boom expected over the next five years, we need to keep the apprentice pipeline open, and supporting new tech teachers would help achieve this,” says Quinn.
BCITO is sponsoring the New Zealand Graphics and Technology Teaching Association conference on 7-9 October. The NZGTTA is encouraging and supporting the Government and various Government agencies involved to change teaching requirements and pay scale, to open the door for more tradespeople to become teachers after their trade careers. Currently, teachers are required to have a level 7 qualification or a degree, which could take anything from two to four years to achieve. Without this qualification, those employed with a Limited Authority to Teach are restricted in their salary earnings and can only be employed on a fixed-term basis.
The NZGTTA National President, Micheal Fleming, says it is now common for schools who can’t staff their woodwork or hard-materials classes to have other teachers take these classes to fill the gaps. “For example, just because graphics/design and visual communication (DVC) teachers fall under the ‘technology’ area of learning, they are often expected to also teach woodwork or hard materials classes,” says Fleming. “They don’t have the right specialisation or trade-specific knowledge to manage a workshop-based learning programme. This also raises health and safety issues,” he says.
Fleming adds, “The changes we propose to Government consider the number of years’ experience in the trades, not just the number of teaching years for salary earnings; access to levels of the salary scale; scholarships to help support the trainee while they study; and also the nature of the training required to become a teacher in terms of time, program structure and location. We think this will make training for and accepting workshop technology teaching roles more attractive.”
BCITO says it would be great to do more to encourage tradespeople to join rewarding teaching positions as second careers.
“They bring creativity, problem-solving and collaborative skills into the classroom, in ways that young people can use immediately and in their future working lives,” says Quinn.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Kiri Shannon, Acumen Republic on behalf of BCITO
04 494 5145 or 021 0234 4157
Women are hugely under-represented in the trades, and an industry group is pushing for improvement.
BCITO is committed to ensuring the reforms of the vocational education system benefits employers and apprentices, and to working with the Government to ensure this happens.