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New Zealand Schools Celebrate winners of Prime Minister’s Excellence Award

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We acknowledge the success of this year’s recipients of the Prime Minister’s Award for Vocational Excellence.

This award recognises outstanding students enrolled in vocational programmes who have shown they have what it takes to develop the skills, knowledge and attributes to build a career in industry.

Introduced in 2019, the Prime Minister’s Award for Vocational Excellence, and the $2,000 monetary prize, can be awarded to the top Year 12 or 13 secondary student enrolled in vocational programmes of learning. One student is eligible per school or wharekura.

Students all over New Zealand excel in building their vocational knowledge and this is one way to recognise them for their success. When we consider tertiary education, we normally think of universities but the majority of learners enter other forms of tertiary education such as polytechnics, apprenticeships and workplace learning.

The purpose of the award is also to raise the status of vocational education and ensure it is seen as an attractive option for rangatahi as they leave school.

Below are some of the award winners and their stories.

Chase Astwood – Spotswood College

Chase Astwood is the 2021 PMVE award winner for New Plymouth’s Spotswood College. 
Chase completed the level 3 Engineering Trades Academy at WITT in New Plymouth during 2021 and was an integral member of the ‘Build a Trailer’ project this group completed. He also completed a very successful Gateway placement with Sharp Sheet Metal in New Plymouth, impressing with his skills, engagement, and ‘can do” attitude. These attributes saw him snapped up for an apprenticeship within the company. With a full kete of skill-based courses and qualifications, including a forklift license, risk assessment, first aid, and height safety, Chase has hit the road running in his chosen career. Congratulations, Chase. 

Zaylea Burt – Whakatāne High School

Whakatāne High School student Zaylea Burt has completed two years of Trades Academy with Bay of Plenty Futures Academy at Toi Ohomai, Agriculture Levels 2 & 3. Zaylea is heading off to Lincoln University in 2022 to study toward a Diploma in Agriculture. She already has holiday work on a farm and has worked part-time on a farm all year. She also has her driver’s license so is all set to take on her farming future. She was a well-deserving recipient of the Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award.

Hayden Bell – Palmerston North Boys’ High School

Congratulations to Gateway Automotive student, Hayden Bell, who will begin his employment with Machinery Specialists. Hayden has had an extremely successful year on the Gateway course and is the only student to complete the equivalent of 6 months of the Motor Industry Training Organisation (MITO) apprenticeship via achieving all credits available in both the MITO Introductory course and the MITO Advance course. In addition, Hayden was selected for the prestigious Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellency Award, where once again he was successful. As with all Gateway students, Hayden not only completed industry-recognised theory paperwork but also completed several practical courses. He also undertook weekly work placements. The combination of these elements played a major contributing factor in Hayden gaining employment. Everyone at PNBHS wish Hayden well.

James Johnson – Awatapu College

James Johnston is the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award. He has applied himself extremely well in his vocational studies over an extended period of time. In addition to gaining NCEA Level 2, James has completed the Level 2 National Certificate Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation award this year. James is also completing Competenz Standards in Engineering. James is a very reliable student, he has taken a lead role in constructing the set for the major school production as well as designing and constructing planter boxes for the science department courtyard. This involvement has been highly appreciated and valued. James engages to a very high level in class and provides assistance to other students without hesitation. As part of his own vocational pathway, James has gained a part-time position at Bunnings. This position will allow him to build up his overall knowledge in the building and construction industry. James has expressed a keen interest in obtaining an apprenticeship in the building and construction industry in the future and is a worthy recipient of the prestigious Prime Ministers Vocational Excellence Award.

Matthew Laws – Roncalli College

Matthew was awarded his certificate at senior prizegiving along with the $2000 monetary prize. He completed a Gateway Roncalli work placement with Murray Brown Electrical where he gathered practical evidence towards the Skills Organisation Gateway Electrical Programme while completing electrical theory work in his Gateway class at school. He has confirmed his career direction, made a start on his future qualification, and will start an apprenticeship in the new year. An awesome achievement! Well done Matthew!

“This award and collective acknowledgement is one way we recognise the success of all learners and acknowledge the different ways and settings that young people shine.”

Coastal Taranaki School: Phoenix Papa
Phoenix followed a dairy farming pathway and had work placements on various farms in the coastal community. He gained a level 3 qualification in agriculture from WITT and has secured future employment on a farm where he will be continuing his agriculture studies in pasture and stock management under the guidance of his employer and PITO in 2022.  

Francis Douglas Memorial College: Ben Hughes

Ben demonstrates all the skills and attributes that are needed to enable him to succeed in the workplace and is courteous and absolutely reliable. Ben had a work placement with Gopperth Contracting and is now working full-time.

Hāwera High School: Kayla Ryan
Kayla gained NCEA Level 3 and, in addition, completed a Gateway Placement at Kiwi Clubhouse Early Learning Centre. Through her placement, she secured paid after-school work in an OSCAR programme and next year Kayla will be working at Kiwi Clubhouse Early Leaning Centre and starting her study towards an Early Childhood qualification. Polite, mature and well-rounded, Kayla has strong self-management, a positive attitude, and a cheerful disposition.

Inglewood High School: Kodie Sarich
Kodie had placements at DMR in Inglewood and Cervus Equipment in Stratford and has completed an  Automotive Microcredential qualification with MITO & Trades Academy L2 Automotive. He is now employed by Cervus and is commencing a Service Technician Apprenticeship in 2022.

New Plymouth Boys High School: Zac Andrews

All year Zac has been hardworking, reliable, highly organised, and self-disciplined. He has balanced a busy school workload with a part-time job relief milking on his parent’s farm as well as attending his electrical Gateway placement one day a week. Zac has had great success on the Gateway Programme, he has impressed his employer at Scott Electrical Solutions so much they have started the process of applying through ETCO to begin Zac’s apprenticeship with them.  

New Plymouth Girls High School: Ishbel Black
Ishbel had a dream of graduating from NPGHS in 2021 with University Entrance so she can enrol in the Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree at Massey. She completed her Equine Studies in trades every year from Year 11 to Year 13.  Ishbel demonstrated reliability, trustworthiness, and a pure passion to learn rudimentary horsemanship to the best of her ability, to achieve her dream of becoming a vet.

Congratulations to the students on their achievements and the schools who supported them

Opunake High School: Brody Fox

Brody obtained a work placement through the Gateway Programme with a local builder, who has since offered Brody a full-time apprenticeship position. Brody plans to use the prize money from the award to assist him to purchase the tools and equipment he requires for the building trade.

Sacred Heart Girls College: Alexandrea (Alex) Shearman
Alex has worked at Electric-L as a Gateway electrician and completed the Skills Org Electrical Gateway package. She was highly regarded by her employer due to her skills, reliability, and work ethic. As a result, she has now gained employment at First Gas.

Stratford High SchoolBrayden Fale
Brayden has had a placement with Field Torque Taranaki and completed a MITO – Micro-credential StartUp Ignition Automotive Level 2 qualification. He has also secured an apprenticeship with his gateway placement starting in 2022.

Waitara High School: Hayley Lopusiewicz
Hayley has successfully completed the WITT Hairdressing Trades Academy and also completed a one-day work experience each week with Verve Hair Design. Hayley has shown resilience and determination throughout the year in completing these whilst carrying a significant and ongoing knee issue. She has fulfilled the criteria for the award with her positive, can-do attitude. Hayley is a consistently respectful student who is always open to learning and is motivated to work hard towards her goals.

Taranaki Diocesan School for Girls: Ronaele Jones

Ronaele is a Year 12 who this year worked through WITT to achieve her Level 2 Agriculture Certificate. She is planning on transitioning into tertiary next year and doing her Level 3 Agriculture Certificate

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