Trades training for 543 students in Tonga

This article originally appeared as a press release from the Tongan Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications, and published by Foreign Affairs.

Two lecturers from Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) visited Nuku’alofa to train high school teachers and tutors at Tonga Institute of Science and Technology (TIST) in building and welding.

Jared Mckay, Industry Manager in Building and Construction, was accompanied by Alex Franklin, Senior Lecturer in Welding. The project’s In-country Co-ordinator Mr ‘Oto Misi said the two lecturers were here to train teachers under the Pacific Islands Tertiary High School Development project.

“Mckay and Franklin are here to teach high school teachers and tutors at TIST to enable them to teach students the necessary skills needed. Mckay is also here to audit the Building and Construction Program at TIST and try to match it with the units taught at MIT,” he said.

According to Misi, the purpose of the project were to give high school students that have quit mainstream education an opportunity to study technical and vocational courses in order to be employed in the future.

“There are students that don’t sit the Tonga School Certificate Examination and some doesn’t even want to continue studying because they do not feel the drive in the classroom. So this project offers them opportunity to study technical and vocational courses while in high school,” he said.

“Technical and vocational courses might give them skills to find a job and to give back to their communities.”

Misi said the project started in 2014 with four high schools and along the way six more high schools joined the program.

“We started in 2014 with only four high schools and now we have 10 high schools with a total of 543 students from different schools. The students registered in the program have to complete five courses in order to get a certificate in technical and vocational skills level 2.”

“From there the students will have to register at TIST and choose what field they want to study. We have the automotive engineering, welding, building and construction and a number of other courses they can choose from.”

Misi stated that once a student completed the course requirements they have the choice whether they want to continue on to MIT.

“If the skills taught are not identical to what MIT is teaching, students will have to complete courses in MIT to match the requirements needed in NZ. But if the skills are identical to what MIT is teaching then students will have to decide whether they want to continue on to MIT and get a diploma qualification in their chosen field or MIT will place them with a particular industry in New Zealand for employment opportunity.”

Mckay said it was amazing to see that some of the skills taught in Tonga were no longer taught in New Zealand.

“There are specific skills that this industry needs and those skills have changed in NZ and they don’t require those skills anymore what I see here is that there are some foundation and some core skills that are died in NZ but they are still been taught here and it’s admirable,” he said.

“As a city industry of change, NZ city of industry doesn’t require a builder to be a cabinet maker, here in Tonga it does so I’m thinking with all the tools and equipment that I have we were thinking of gifting it to TIST.”

Mckay said some of the skills taught in Tonga that match some of the skills trained at MIT.

“I’m very happy with what I have seen. The skills that I need match some of our skills in Manukau.”

“What is important is what I see here that TIST is speaking with the industry, it is very encouraging because when we don’t work parallel with the industry we are selling a product which is the students that they don’t need and we are going to be very cautious by looking at that.”

The project is funded by the Government of New Zealand and MIT.

Tonga trades training

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