U-Skills students rewarded for year of work

Te Pukenga Whanganui U-Skills student Jet Norris was awarded the outstanding student award at their prizegiving. Photo / Supplied

Students enrolled in UCOL Te Pūkenga Whanganui U-Skills Academy programmes were recognised for their hard work at an end-of-year prizegiving.

U-Skills programmes allow Year 11 to 13 students to attend classes on campus one or two days a week, working towards NCEA credits or in some programmes, a tertiary qualification.

This year, 802 students participated in the programmes, 135 of which were in Whanganui.

The event was held in Whanganui, as well as similar events in Masterton and Palmerston North, where students received certificates for completing their programmes, with special awards for outstanding student, improvement and dedication.

Jet Norris was awarded the outstanding student in Whanganui and said the programme helped build his confidence and people skills.

“U-Skills was really cool. At first, I was nervous, but it quickly became one of the most exciting parts of my week,” Norris said.

He attended the U-Skills health programme, as he said he always had an interest in sports and exercise and thought it would complement his work as a football referee.

In the future, he plans to continue his studies in sport and exercise at a tertiary level.

Police pathways student Ngarimu Te Utupoto Teki Rawiri won the award for Improvement and construction student Kazin Hemmingson won the award for Dedication.

UCOL Te Pūkenga director of secondary and tertiary Hayden Robinson said it was great to hold the event after Covid-19 restrictions stopped them for the past two years.

“These events are special not only for the learners and their whānau, but also our staff who have supported them throughout the year. Our lecturers and transition coordinators work closely with their ākonga to help them achieve the goals, so we are incredibly proud when we get to present learners with their certificates.”

He said completing a U-Skills programme outside of school is a fantastic achievement for any learning, and the programmes were about personal growth as much as they were about learning vocational skills.

“Ākonga obviously gain industry-relevant skills, but the self-confidence, problems solving skills, and teamwork skills they develop are just as valuable,” Robinson said.

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