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Local Business Wins Education New Zealand Award

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

20 August 2008 - A pilot project to allow international students to work in New Zealand as part of their vocational training has won a Canterbury education provider recognition from peers at the Education New Zealand conference.

The National Trade Academy won the Innovation in International Programme award for its work with Immigration New Zealand to trial a Study to Work Visa pilot.

NTA Managing Director Craig Musson, a member of Education Christchurch & Canterbury, was delighted to receive the award after years of trying to facilitate work experience for international students.

The privately owned NTA was set up in 2000 to provide education and training for land-based and trade industries; and international courses in agriculture and equine-related fields.

In the past few years, NTA has participated in a trade mission to Chile to investigate training opportunities and scoping visits to Uruguay, Argentina, Malaysia and China, (all with the assistance of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise), which have opened up new opportunities for the company.

"Most of our students are New Zealanders, but we could see there was a market for international students to come to New Zealand to study New Zealand farm technology and farm management systems and then be able to work on local dairy farms to put into practice the training that was provided. NTA teaches a range of knowledge and practical skills and covered points of health and safety and cultural issues they needed to know," Craig says.

Skills taught at NTA include English language, vehicle and machinery safety, fencing, animal, feed and pasture management, milking information and general information about New Zealand farming techniques.

Currently these students enter New Zealand either on visitor and study permits and then apply for a working visa. The pilot project now being set up with Immigration New Zealand, the New Zealand Embassy in Chile and the Chilean Government will allow a smoother pathway for students to gain work experience for one to two years.

Education Christchurch & Canterbury Manager Trish Leddy says NTA's work with Immigration New Zealand could also be useful for other education providers in the region.

"If we can encourage an all-in-one Visa, these international students will stay longer to get work experience. They're contributing to the local economy and it helps Canterbury while we have skilled staff shortages in particular areas," Mrs Leddy says.

NTA has been part of the Canterbury Development Corporation initiative Education Christchurch & Canterbury for about three years and Craig says the learning and networking he's engaged in by being part of this group has been invaluable for his business.

Currently part of CDC's Accelerated Business Growth Programme, Craig is keen to see more New Zealand expertise exported worldwide.

"Our focus is on training international students so they can learn about New Zealand's farm management systems and technology with the objective of returning home and using the skills and knowledge they've learned to improve farm productivity in their countries. A benefit of the work experience is that Canterbury farmers can find employees when there's a shortage of labour available locally," he says.

Two groups of Chilean students have now been through NTA courses, a third group starts in September and a large group in October. Two groups from Uruguay are booked to come to Christchurch next year and there's also interest from Brazil.

"Each time we get a market going, we're looking at our next market - there's quite a few countries that have a synergy with what we're doing. And it's nice to have our work recognised with this award," Craig says.

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