Ara Institute of Canterbury Ltd has had such unprecedented demand for its pre-health course offering that all available places for the Certificate in Study and Career Preparation L4 (Pre-Health pathway) have already been taken for the July semester.
The popularity of this offering reflects the appeal of the health sector for many now seeking to change careers in the face of post-COVID economic changes. Successful completion of this qualification allows learners to pursue higher study in a number of health-related diplomas or degrees at Ara, including the Bachelor of Nursing offered at the Timaru and Christchurch campuses and osteopathy, midwifery, medical imaging, nutrition, health promotion, sports science and laboratory science at the Christchurch campus.
In recognition of the impact of COVID-19, and of the future needs of key sectors within New Zealand, the New Zealand Government Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) became available to learners from July the 1st. The $320.0 million ‘targeted investment’ in education by the New Zealand Government is designed to boost the number of qualified workers in specific industries over the next two years, and to encourage people who have lost their jobs to retrain while also allowing new employees in some essential services to train on the job.
For Ara, this means that students can train for free with a view to filling critical industry gaps in engineering, architecture, quantity surveying and construction management, a range of trades and road transport, and certain sectors of the health and wellbeing professions. This last includes Ara’s ‘New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing’, which is now being offered ‘fees-free’ for the first time under the scheme. The course, which can be studied full-time or part-time, provides a foundation of knowledge and skills for employment or professional development within the health and wellbeing sector. While taking several core courses, students also choose one of three strands – community facilitation, social services or mental health and addiction support – as the focus of their studies.
Elizabeth Schmidt, HOD Applied Sciences and Social Practice says, “As with most of Ara’s programs, the Certificate integrates class-based learning with real-life, hands-on experience, which gives students an excellent insight into the health and wellbeing sector. There is a great demand for qualified support workers, so that the most vulnerable members of society are sure to receive the highest possible standard of care.”
The programme takes a community-centred approach to health and can lead learners into employment in variety of areas including, disability support, diversional therapy, mental health and addiction support, community development, family violence support, social justice advocacy and refugee support.
John Grant, Ara’s new Health Practice Department Head, hopes that people take up the opportunity to contribute to New Zealand’s healthcare system. “I think anytime is a good time to study healthcare, but I think more so now, because from what I understand, the government is putting the push into the sector; they’re realizing that people can’t just be replaced from overseas, and that we really need to invest in making sure that we have the capabilities in the country.”
Domestic applications for both the Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Pre-Health Pathway) and the Certificate in Health and Wellbeing are received all year, with the next intake starting February 2021.