Ben Niven was one of the first graduates of the Youth Guarantee (YG) programme at Ara, Institute of Canterbury, and he was back on campus this week to tell the story of how YG gave him the start he needed in the engineering trades industry.
His speech inspired the audience of 15 to 19 year-old students and over 500 family members at the annual Ara Youth Showcase awards.
“I was working fulltime at Hell Pizza. School had not worked out for me,” Ben said. “I did the Youth Guarantee programme in automotive. It taught me a base foundation of everything in my career that I am doing at the moment.”
Ben had high praise for his tutors. “Everything they told me was wonderful and I tried to retain every sentence. I couldn’t stop listening.”
Youth Guarantee gave Ben the opportunity to try different trades and to gain his pre-trade qualification in engineering trades, fees-free. He then worked in an engineering workshop, “doing what I was told”, and was offered the chance to be a contractor at 18, which led to two years of work in Darfield in the dairy industry. A period of subcontracting on projects around town followed. “Driving past things, I could say ‘helped with that’ and it was an exciting feeling.”
“I’m 25 so I guess you could say I’ve done an apprenticeship - seven years of solid learning, solid work, learning on the job.”
The future looks bright. “I have just secured a lease on a reasonable size workshop in Hornby. And to be honest, it was one of the proudest moments of my entire life. I can’t tell you how much it means to me and I’m sure that all of you have the potential to do the same thing if you put your heads to it.”
The annual Ara Youth Showcase awards are testament to the impact youth pathway programmes have on young people. Young people from a range of schools and backgrounds spoke about their experiences in the programme. They had left school and enrolled in YG, or remained at school to complete NCEA credits while also completing Canterbury Tertiary College at Ara.
Held on 26 October in the Whareora, the event gave voice to young people from a range of subject areas including trades, TOA sports, business administration, retail, cooking, health and hairdressing. Some of the speakers said they would not have had the confidence to stand up in front of a large crowd before coming to Ara. All of them thanked their tutors for their extraordinary dedication and care.
| An ARA release || October 27, 2017 |||