After Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education, had announced Te Pūkenga’s new name, Pam Roa spoke to the assembled guests.
Pam shared her story of longstanding involvement with and support for vocational education.
“It all began in the 1970s when I was six years old and Dad did a New Zealand Certificate in Engineering at night school through the polytechnic system at the now Wintec site. He worked by day as a draughtsman, then went to night classes and had a second job as a wine waiter as well. I don’t know how he managed and, at that time, I was too young to be aware of what was driving him. Now I know he aspired to create a better life for his whānau.
“I have vivid memories of being allowed to come to the polytech swimming pool. That was quite the social occasion on a hot summer weekend. Then years later, when I joined the Council at Wintec, I searched for that swimming pool in disappointment. Where had it gone?”
Pam has been immersed in vocational education for more than thirty years within both her personal and business life.
Longveld Ltd is a specialist stainless steel fabricating business with a particular focus on dairy within the food and beverage industry. It has a sixty-eight person team and employs welders, polishers, fabricators and engineers.
Every team member is currently enrolled in vocational training, some on site at work and others through Wintec and ITOs, with 10 per cent currently enrolled in apprenticeships. The rest are completing a Level 3 or 4 Certificate in a continuous improvement qualification as part of Longveld’s innovation journey.
Diversity and inclusiveness are priorities at Longveld. Worldwide only 10 per cent of engineering students are women.
As a previous member of Council at Wintec, and as Chair of the Waikato Women’s Fund, Pam is keen to raise that participation level and highlight both professional and trade engineering career opportunities to more female high school students. Longveld has been running a ‘girls in engineering’ programme with the Waikato Trades Academy to encourage more young women into light fabrication apprenticeships and is delighted to have two female school leavers on that path now.
Wintec’s female engineers recently featured in a highly popular post on social media and they have a mission to change up that ratio.
As well as increasing gender diversity in Engineering, Pam believes it’s extremely important that employers get behind the reform of vocational education.
“I believe the transformation now underway will provide an improved system that benefits employers, learners and educators and I’m really excited about helping it succeed.
“I’m delighted that Te Pūkenga is headquartered here in the Waikato and the Longveld team is looking forward to doing our part to make this a roaring success. Congratulations to Murray, Stephen and your team.”
“The new name signifies our community having access to skills development no matter what your background and Longveld is proud to be a part of the journey,” says Pam.