I have had an interesting week looking at various study pathways that sit a little outside the box and offer an alternative to the traditional straight road into tertiary studies.

Many of the young people I work with are increasingly interested to find out about alternative ways to gain tertiary qualifications and understand their options. The uncertainly that Covid is creating in terms of what a first year at university away from home might look like is driving young people to consider a gap year, employment or gaining some undergraduate qualification locally or online.

It is important to ensure that young people are aware of the study pathways that fall into the government funded category for example or at least are leading towards a sector where there is a skills shortage. This knowledge can support young people with their pathway decisions.

One pathway that I have learnt about this week is the NZ Diploma in Engineering delivered at various Polytechnics around the country including NorthTec in Whangarei. This two-year course is fully funded by the government (until December 2022) as it fits under the sub-degree programmes in targeted areas that support the construction industry. 

Not only can students study the two first year of a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering fees free but they will also be supported to apply for an internship and gain valuable hands-on experience with a local business, learning from experienced engineers.

This could be a great option for a school leaver (or a mature learner) who is unsure about studying away from home, who wants to save money or who wants both academic and practical experience before committing to university studies away from home.

This qualification staircases into the University of Auckland’s Engineering degree which gives student two years to decide what interests them most in the field of engineering.

My key message is that there is a pathway for every young person based on their interests, ambitions and learning style.  Covid is creating interesting and alternative opportunities that some young people are taking advantage of. A smart move!