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Thursday, 12 July 2012 13:21

Driving towards farming careers

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Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre this week is hosting 25 Primary Industry Trades Academy (PITA) students at its Wairarapa Campus for a full week of practical skills training.

These aspiring farming students have already developed some skills in livestock handling, fencing and safe farming practices.

Yesterday the group learnt how to safely handle quad-bikes and tractors - core skills for any farm worker – and a much anticipated aspect of the programme.

"Our PITA students learn to value each aspect of the programme and gain a real understanding of how the practical elements, such as fencing and stock-handling, contribute to overall farm management.

"Driving vehicles safely is an essential requirement for most farm workers and a skill our Primary Industry Trades Academy students really look forward to developing," says Jen Butler, Taratahi's Agriculture in Schools manager.

"Yesterday these students learnt about safe vehicle handling and drove both tractors and quad-bikes on a short circuit. We are aiming for them to be competent to drive under supervision in their work experience placements by the end of this week."

Taratahi's Primary Industry Trade's Academy, one of the first seven under the Government's 2010 initiative, has developed a two-year programme combining study towards the National Certificates in Agriculture Level 2 'Introductory Skills' and 'Strands (Dairy or Sheep)' with agricultural experience, life-skills development and careers advice. During the academic year students work in groups and spend one day a week with either a Taratahi tutor or practising farming skills on work experience at a local farm.

Each of PITA's 100 students is expected to complete a week of intensive training at Taratahi's Wairarapa Campus as part of their study programme.

This week students from Wairarapa, Manawatu, Horowhenua and Taranaki regions enjoyed a week of skills-based training.

The PITA programme is also delivered in Wellington, Hutt Valley, Dannevirke, Wanganui and via New Zealand's Correspondence School Te Kura, the programme is set to expand to more regions in 2013.

"Our PITA students tell us how much they enjoy the practical nature of the course and that they appreciate the relevance of the theory components of the curriculum," says Butler "Through the year we have seen our students develop a sense of accomplishment and pride in their new skills. Teachers tell us that this lift in their self-esteem, confidence and social skills has had a knock-on effect in the classroom – students are more motivated to learn all-round."

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