Career kickstart: Massey High School students from left: Cassidy Hau, Stefan Gardner and Michael Toleafoa, all 17, arepart of the carpentrytrade academy.
Photo: CIARA PRATT
BUILDING a house while still at high school is not something many students get to do.
But pupils at Massey High School will this month get to hand over a 65 square metre, two-bedroom house they have built.
Now in its third year, about 230 students from the school are involved in the Auckland West Vocational Academy programme.
Massey offers 11 academies including automotive, business, carpentry, electrotechnology and fashion and beauty. The programme comes under the Government's Youth Guarantee initiative which provides more ways to achieve NCEA level 2.
Chris Skinner is the tutor in charge of the carpentry, civil construction and infrastructure academies at Massey. In the carpentry academy, students spend half of the year completing theory and the the rest of the year building a house.
''We aim to give these young men the best possible chance of employment and we're aiming at the big companies,'' he says.
''The goal is when they front up they have got a point of difference to others.
''We treat it like a workplace.
''We don't tolerate slackers or lateness – they come in as boys and they come out as valuable young men.'' The students appreciate the opportunity they've been given.
Skinner says many of the boys wouldn't be achieving at school if it wasn't for the academy, including 17-yearold Michael Toleafoa who says school wasn't for him.
''This is great, it's very physical and you don't have to sit at a desk all day.
''It was a challenge at the beginning starting at 7.30am and finishing at 4pm but I'm more sensible now, I'm more neat and not as lazy as I was before.'' Toleafoa along with a number of other students will start semester two at Unitec this year.
Students in the academy will earn their NCEA level 2 credits as well as qualifications relevant to their specific trade or vocation.
Principal Bruce Ritchie fought for a programme like this for years after realising there wasn't a strong pathway for students who weren't interested in attending university.
''It's helped keep a lot of young people at school and kept them on that pathway.
''It's guaranteeing youth a future.'' Deputy principal John Tinling says he has witnessed major changes among the students.
''To me it's been huge,'' he says.
''There are a large number of students who completely change and their parents see what's happening and support it.'' ❚ The house will be auctioned on Trade Me and money raised will go to the New Zealand Housing Foundation.
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