A group of secondary students are now 'job ready' for the Civil Infrastructure Industry armed with both practical experience and a qualification thanks to a new training initiative.
The upper South Island students have spent the past year combining on the job experience and study, while still at school, to gain not only 'hands on' experience but also a level 2 National Certificate in Infrastructure Works.
The Infrastructure industry nationwide is short staffed and Connexis - the Civil Infrastructure Industry Training Organisation (ITO) - is involved in the initiative for the first time in an effort to help ease the staff shortage.
Bryn Stephenson, Connexis Customer Service Account Manager for Nelson/Marlborough says, that a lot of people view the Industry as 'just a job' but there's a career path with nationally recognised qualifications including an apprenticeship programme that can lead into Civil Trades Certification, which makes it a great job option.
"The work the Industry undertakes is the backbone of New Zealand infrastructure, it's a rapidly growing sector that is facing challenges meeting the increasing capacity, in terms of a skilled workforce, to meet planned projects, let alone addressing unexpected work such as the Kaikoura earthquake rebuild."
The student training is offered by the Top of the South Trades Academy and gives students the opportunity to train for a job while they're still at school.
For recent graduate Josh Hutton it has led him straight into the workforce with a job at Fulton Hogan in Nelson. "I previously tried different trades by doing work experience, but none of them really caught my eye. I really didn’t know much about Civil Construction – I was just testing the water to begin with. The more I went the more I enjoyed it – especially once I got the chance to jump on the tools."
Josh says he enjoyed the practical aspect of the training. "It was really hands on. I loved having the chance to do a variety of things, and to create things. It’s a very ‘visual’ job – there aren’t many jobs where you can see exactly what you’ve achieved throughout the day."
Paul Shuker, Fulton Hogan’s Senior Department Manager for Construction, says the Trades Academy is a great way to show students that there is a career path in the Civil Infrastructure Industry and it isn't 'just a job'. "For us, finding the right person is really important. You can teach students practical skills, but they have to have the right attitude and be keen to learn.
"We would definitely get involved again. It’s been a great way to attract high calibre young people, and that's been a challenge in the past."
Fulton Hogan will be supporting Josh - and other two school leavers - to get their full driver's licence and work towards a Level 3 qualification.
"Over the next few years we’ll find their strengths and help them to develop in the areas that interest them, whether it’s plant operation, supervision etc. Providing a career pathway for our young people is a priority for us. Fulton Hogan has lots of different divisions, so there really is something for everyone whether it’s maintenance or capital works/construction," Paul says.
Bryn says Connexis' inaugural involvement with the initiative has been a huge success. "The objective was to provide a programme with a meaningful qualification at the end of the training, and real on job experience that would make students work ready. It has been tremendously well supported by the local branch of Civil Contractors NZ (CCNZ) and the shining stars of the programme have been offered employment.
"I can’t wait to build on the success of 2016 and develop the programme further in 2017 with the addition of more on job time and the inclusion of driver training into the curriculum," Bryn says.
Shaaron James, Manager of the Top of the South Trades Academy is thrilled with the programme. "This is the first time this training has been offered in terms of the Civil industry linking to a trades academy, and I'm very proud to have been part of creating opportunities for employers to work with our students and guide them as to what the civil world actually looks like."