HomeNewsElectric partnership provides opportunity for UCOL ākonga

Electric partnership provides opportunity for UCOL ākonga

By UCOL on Tuesday, 14 May 2024

Dillan Wyse from McKenzies Electrical 2000 teaches practical skills to Aaron Middleton and Caitlyn Wilkins.

A new partnership between UCOL Wairarapa and McKenzies Electrical 2000 is helping remove barriers for ākonga (students) by giving them a way to learn practical electrical skills here in the region.

Russell Keys, owner of McKenzie Electrical 2000 says the Certificate in Electrical Pre-Trade is all about building talent locally.

"This is the first year this partnership has run and frankly, it's about time. We were finding people would have to move away to study this - and even then, many were put off because they didn't have the means or money to move away from home."

Dillan Wyse of McKenzie’s Electrical 2000 is taking charge of running the practical sessions onsite with the help of Russell and others when and where needed.

Aaron Middleton, a mature student with a young daughter, was someone in that exact situation.

"I was ready to retrain last year but it would have meant a move to Palmerston North or Wellington. Having this course available here has meant I haven't needed to uproot my whānau.”

Mr Middleton says that he’s really enjoyed the programme so far. “As you can imagine, electricity is not something you want to muck around with, but UCOL and the team at McKenzies Electrical 2000 have been super thorough. People often think it’s impossible to retrain but it’s not - I’m 52, so you can do it at any age. UCOL definitely supports you, and I do feel like this will give me the step up I need in my career change.”

The course has attracted a diverse group, with the youngest ākonga being only 16 years old. Another one of Middleton’s classmates is Caitlin Wilkins. While she’s the only female student for this year’s intake, she’s keen for other women to consider the trades as a viable career option.

"My family are all into the trades so I was always told, ‘You can do it!’ It would be great to see more women in the trades because we're totally capable. Not once have I felt judged or out of place on the course. Actually the opposite - I've felt really encouraged.

“When I saw it advertised I thought this would be awesome and it really has been! It’s fun and has given me purpose. When I started, I knew nothing, but in two months, I've already learned heaps. Even better - I intended to use my fees-free study but actually I earned a Youth Study Scholarship. I’m the kind of person who keeps an eye on the money side of things, so that was super helpful.”

Mr Keys says this programme is just one example of UCOL's strategic partnerships with local businesses.

"They really understand the benefit of these kinds of relationships and the skills that people working in the industry can give to students. When UCOL approached me, I thought it was a great way to give back to the community and help others on their electrical career pathway.
“Seeing people aiding themselves to become ready for apprenticeships and becoming good electricians is really rewarding. We want to make it easier for them to enter the industry - and we want to show them that there are work opportunities right here in Wairarapa for when they finish their studies."