I’ve been a temporary traffic management trainer for the better part of 10 years, and it was not until recently did I realise I have a place in tertiary education. Traffic Controllers in training  in the TTM industry often operate in an environment where many of their students have either left school early or have been out of school for a long time and have not completed any further education since, and in many cases a combination of the two.

Recently the industry’s attention has been turned to creating a new way of learning through vocation and competency training. Many people who choose to enter the temporary traffic management industry see it as a practical based job that does not require classroom learning. They are often very tentative coming into the classroom once they realise there is theory training to be completed. It is our job to create a learning plan that fits them and the way they learn, to give them a chance to complete tertiary education and find a place in study that may not have been offered at secondary school. 

The cultural cross section of learners entering in to the TTM industry is predominantly Maori and Pasifika. Historically we can see that there has been trials and tribulation regarding the consistency and support of Maori and Pasifika Learners. We know that Maori and Pasifika learn in a collaborative and oral way and have not been catered for in the mainstream education system. One recommendation is to understand the learner’s context – or internal motivation – what drives students? And external motivation factors – what external influences do they have in their lives?

I have played around with vocation learning in TTM over the past 6-12 months, here is what I have learnt and what we like to think about during our training sessions. 

1.  Start with the basics. This is often overlooked, that’s right my good people, introductions. It is such a simple idea that doesn’t get enough credit. Find out where exactly these people are from and possibly why they have chosen to start working in the traffic management industry, the age old saying of “what makes you get out of bed in the morning?”. 

2.  Next, resist the urge to fall in to the “death by PowerPoint” trap, instead of heavy written tests, try videos and booklets which are largely image based and reflect what they will see during their practical training. We may not be able to alter the material we are given, but you can certainly embellish it. 

3.  Tell stories in you lesson, pull on your own experiences from being on road running a Stop/Go or installing a tricky closure. Watch the student interaction increase and overall trust for you as a peer and mentor grow.

4.  In a controlled environment get them geared up in some personal protection equipment (PPE) and completing some practical skills, this starts to create a link between the theory behind the way we do things on site

The understanding of their job as a Traffic Controller or STMS changes drastically over the course of the day, this is something that I have felt a great sense of success in witnessing. Ultimately what we want to achieve is these candidates stepping in to their first day of work with all the tools they need to complete their role with confidence and mana. 

There are endless options for further education at a tertiary level that are not touched on in secondary school and the Traffic Management industry provides many pathways to different job opportunities that help play a crucial role within society. If we can be the people to introduce these to the wider community and cultures of New Zealand, extinguish the idea that you must be book smart to study, I would feel extremely satisfied in my work.