BCATS initiative introduced

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The Building and Construction Allied Trades (BCATS) initiative is a new entry level qualification being introduced by the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) and BETA (Built Environment Training Alliance).

Recently profiled by BCITO chief executive Ruma Karaitiana at the annual Registered Master Builders’ Federation conference in New Plymouth, the BCATS qualification will be taught at secondary school level and will give students grounding in all the construction trades offered.

BCITO apprentice numbers are steadily increasing, growing from 8150 in 2005 to 8700 in 2006. Mr Karaitiana attributes the rise to more positive attitudes from parents and teachers who now recognise the trades as a valuable career, and are encouraging students down a trade-based career pathway.

The BCATS initiative will develop and implement a set of unit standards appropriate for numerous construction areas at an entry level. It aims to integrate all aspects of the qualification into the school curriculum and NCEA.

By providing construction-related examples in a number of core subjects, it will encourage maths (for example) to not only be taught in the classroom, but also to be reinforced in the workshop.

This year a pilot programme with 10 schools has been initiated. The purpose of the BCATS pilot programme is to evaluate the suitability of the draft resource, assessment and support material for the draft new unit standards.

These units have similar common assessment tasks as those contained in the existing Elementary Construction Skills qualification.
The pilot will also provide the opportunity for unit and achievement standards from other secondary school curriculum areas to be evaluated for their suitability and content.

Once the pilot is completed and the feedback analysed, decisions will be made on the final structure of the qualification/s in the National Qualifications Framework domain, and the content of the unit standards, resource, assessment and support material.

The BCITO aims to deliver the BCATS qualification nationwide in 2008.