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Connecting our young people in a disconnected world

  • upc-unitalks-unitec-2020

While the country was in lockdown, the Unitec Pathways College team was busy creating innovative ways to keep our young people connected and engaged, including online ‘couch sessions’ and lectures.

UPC ahead of the curve 

Everyone knows that the Unitec Pathway College (UPC) stands at the very centre of what we do and stand for. With a commitment to the success of our youngest students’ development and success, their work spans all of Auckland and now, more than ever, other parts of the country because of the way they adapted to working from home during lockdown. Thus, they are ensuring that our young people have access to everything they need to make informed choices about their futures.

Adapting to lockdown and an entirely digital way of working can be a challenge for anyone – but not UPC. In line with our young people’s ability to overcome and adapt to a new way of being, the team planned and implemented a variety of programmes that enabled our young people to remain engaged and connected. For a team that is usually all about face-to-face communication, their achievement is all the more triumphant. 

Invitingly, one initiative that is imbibed with relaxed and casual connotations through the name alone are their ‘couch sessions’. These sessions were developed to provide one-on-one communication between one of the Secondary School and Community Liaisons from UPC and any learner that wanted to engage. Because lockdown meant that people three doors down from you were as distant and remote as someone from Timaru, these couch sessions enabled UPC to expand their network to a much wider range than Auckland. Online tools such as Zoom have allowed learners across the country to engage with Unitec in a meaningful way with wider reach that was previously inhibited for practical reasons. 

In a masterstroke, in place of their usual school holiday workshops, they implemented ‘Unitalks’ – an intimate, engaging programme that directly connects our young people with lecturers in their field of interest. The premise of ‘study your passion, save the world’ gives the learners the opportunity to engage in a series of talks or lectures given by lecturers already confirmed to participate in the school holiday workshops. Even more excitingly, the talks encourage discourse on how their industry can save the world and gives students the space to imagine themselves in this world in creative and empowering ways.  

With much of team back on campus, UPC has created a Facebook live event in record time. From 11am to 2pm on Thursday 28 May, ‘Mataaho Go Live’ takes learners on a virtual tour of our state-of-the-art trades building. With the announcement that the government is giving trades training a $1.6billion injection the timing is perfect to showcase our amazing space. More importantly, the learners will have the opportunity to meet some of our expert trades lecturers from Building Construction to Electrical Engineering, Automotive and Plumbing. 

In a world where disconnection has become rife – ironically through the technology that was created to enable easier communication, UPC has taken these tools and helped our young people feel included and heard in a profound way. With the mahi that they have done, they have continued to develop and build on their core principle of ‘working together to support the success of our young people’ and it is abundantly clear that while the rest of New Zealand was working from home, there was nothing remote or unaccessable about this team who remain as connected to our communities as ever.


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