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Shot in the arm for local businesses

Outside Universal College of Learning in Masterton. PHOTO/GRACE PRIOR

Scholarships boost for businesses

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A move to introduce up to 200 fully-paid scholarships will be a shot in the arm for some businesses after the Universal College of Learning [Ucol] and Business Wairarapa announced the programme on Monday.

“Ucol recognises the challenges facing small businesses and our regional industries,” college acting chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said.

Ucol is offering the 100 per cent scholarships to chamber members as an initiative to assist in the ‘survive, revive, and thrive goals’.

The two organisations developed it after recognising the challenges the economic situation had created for businesses in the region.

“The value of lifelong learning cannot be understated, but at the same time Ucol recognises that professional development can be a high cost, particularly for small businesses,” Sissons said.

The scholarships, for chamber members and their employees, were targeted at courses that would develop and grow the existing talent and skills.

It would ensure the region’s workforce was future-fit and able to meet the recruitment demands created by large projects coming to the region, Sissons said.

The scholarships covered a range of courses including graduate diploma programmes in project management, business information systems, ICT, and operations and production management.

They were specifically selected to address the needs of industry, allow employees to work while studying, and ensure that at the end of their training, participants receive a qualification that supports their personal growth, Sissons said.

The New Zealand Diploma in Business is new to the Wairarapa campus and will be taught from February 22 next year. The other scholarship courses will be held at Ucol’s Manawatu campus.

Business Wairarapa members who enrol in one of these programmes from November 23 to December 18 will receive a full scholarship that covers all programmes fees.

Drake New Zealand recruitment agency Wairarapa branch manager Steph Burling said staff shortages in the region were in “anything vocational”.

The scholarships were mostly around “white-collar roles”, but Burling said a lot of such jobs supported those vocational areas. The training would be suited to upskilling “middle management, for an example an office manager for a vocational company”.

Burling said investing in upskilling staff is a significant player in retaining them.

Ucol said the local chamber network sustains and nurtures regional businesses, and forms the backbone of local economies.

Burling said owner-operators did not have time to work on their businesses – they worked in them.

“This scholarship is an excellent opportunity to encourage them to upskill.”

“This is a hugely generous offer,” a spokesperson for Business Wairarapa’s board said.

“It’s a great initiative that will help to develop much-needed management skills in our region – a win-win for our businesses and their employees in making them more productive and efficient.

“It is hoped this will lead to more joint ventures between Business Wairarapa and Ucol and benefit both as well as members of the association.”

To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must be a New Zealand citizen, a member or employee of a member organisation of Business Wairarapa, and not enrolled in a course at Ucol.

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