A growing number of older New Zealanders are embracing trades and vocational training, seeking new career paths and opportunities. One example is 82-year-old Hugo Manson, who initially joined wood solutions business Juken New Zealand as a cleaner but found himself intrigued by wastewater treatment. Manson decided to pursue formal training in wastewater treatment, enrolling in the New Zealand Certificate in Wastewater Treatment program offered by infrastructure training provider Connexis.
The trend of older individuals pursuing vocational education and training is on the rise. Education Counts reported that in 2019, there were 71,355 learners aged 40 years and over enrolled in such programs, and that number grew by almost 7,000 by 2020. Dr. Megan Gibbons, deputy chief executive at Te Pūkenga, acknowledges that people often find themselves yearning for different paths and interests later in life. This can lead to a desire to start afresh, even if it means starting from a lower rung on the ladder.
Te Pūkenga, which offers vocational training, has over 58,500 students aged 40 or above enrolled in their programs, a quarter of total enrolments. Many older learners participate in work-based learning, while others attend campus-based courses. Mari Helin of Te Pūkenga emphasizes the appeal of on-the-job training for mature students looking to switch careers.
Although older learners face challenges in balancing their studies with work and other responsibilities, they bring valuable life experience and enthusiasm to their training. In Manson’s case, his experience has allowed him to build a strong relationship with his younger colleague, Stephen Meyrick. The two complement each other well, with Manson providing support in areas where Meyrick may struggle, and vice versa.
While Manson’s current job in wastewater treatment may soon come to an end, he has no plans to retire. He expresses gratitude for the opportunity to work and hopes to continue conducting research in the field for many more years to come.
– Education Counts: https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/statistics/tertiary-education/participation
– Te Pūkenga: https://www.tepukenga.ac.nz/
– Connexis: [no URL given]
– Juken New Zealand: [no URL given]