Instep: Deputy Principals build local business relationships


Supporting recent government initiatives aimed at promoting vocational pathways, Instep recently launched its first Deputy Principals’ Day Out. Focussed on the diverse and connected Western Bay of Plenty employment ecosystem, we welcomed secondary school senior leaders to visit four local businesses, providing the opportunity to establish some genuine and productive relationships between education and industry. Attendees took inspiration from speakers’ unexpected pathways and learnt some new skills through hands-on activities throughout the day.  

Starting at the Toi Ohomai Logistics Centre, tutor Peter West said, “it was great to be able to explain a pathway for students in a huge industry that worldwide never stops, whether it be pandemics, wars, or any other set-back, the freight must be delivered.” The Deputy Principals all buckled up to put their skills to the test – navigating forklifts around a mini obstacle course! They then received an overview of the new distribution cadetship which sees youth transitioned into paid employment after 6 weeks, underlining the close connections forged with the industry by the programme. 

One such connection is EastPack. Showcasing some of their young stars who had joined them from local high schools – proof of their motto ‘Start here – Go Anywhere’ – the range of pathways available, as well as wrap-around support in the form of professional development programmes and pastoral care, were all highlighted. Eastpack HR Manager Kura Poulava said, “[we] really enjoyed showing the community that EastPack provide fantastic career pathways in the horticulture industry as well as offering valuable paid work experience for students pursuing their educational goals.”

We then made our way to The Island Brewery in Papamoa. Master Brewer, Michael Julian, provided an insightful overview of the brewing industry, along with a site tour and beer-tasting session to show how different products are created. “It was a pleasure to host such an influential group of educators and I hope some of my stories could be of inspiration in guiding rangatahi along with their journey post-schooling,” remarked Michael.

Also, at The Island, Michael and Jamie from Pacific Coast Technical Institute (PCTI) helped joined the dots to highlight how food manufacturing industry courses provide opportunities for a diverse range of local students. Sonya Burgraaff, Head of Careers at Te Puke High School, reports it has really helped turn around one group of students and is grateful for the student-centric approach taken by PCTI.

For a better understanding of the organisation and structure of a local manufacturing company, the next stop was Trimax, where the group heard about the vast range of skills and abilities that contribute to making this local-launched but global-leading brand so successful. Encouraging to hear that learning on the job was valued as much as tertiary study by COO Gareth Fergus. 

Our last stop was with Foster Construction, who were on-site at the new University of Waikato student accommodation block on Selwyn Street. Our host Ryan is their youngest site manager at just 24 years old; starting with the company as an apprentice, he quickly rose through the ranks and is now being supported by the company to complete his Diploma in Construction Management.

With an increased focus on careers education in schools at a strategic level, we are excited to have senior leadership involved in these purposeful experiences and look forward to seeing them again next year with a new mystery tour already in the works!

If your business wants to get more involved with secondary schools in supporting the understanding of your industry, please contact Ella Dunlop at