Thu 18 Jan 2018

Carpentry: it's safe as houses

The following article is appearing in Fairfax publications in Taranaki this week.


The return to the WITT campus of carpentry courses after a decade is one of the significant 2018 additions for the polytech.

Enrolments are being taken now for the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) Carpentry.

In recent years courses have been contracted out by the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki, but with a significant lift in the building industry beginning to take a grip, WITT has made carpentry a major focus.

The WITT council last year approved the construction of a new carpentry workshop on the New Plymouth campus in Bell St and it will be built less than 50 metres from the site WITT has used for the hugely successful Build a Bach project run in conjunction with Taranaki Futures.

But, as the advert says: wait - there’s more.

The carpentry drive at WITT will see students taking a hands-on role in the construction of not one, but two 110 square metre houses in 2018 on the New Plymouth campus, one through the carpentry course on offer and the other as the latest in the Taranaki Futures Build a Bach series.

No one is more enthused by the new emphasis on carpentry than Programme Trades Manager Kyle Hall.

“We are seeing a lift in the construction industry across the country,” he said. “That increase has not fully hit Taranaki yet, but we expect it.

“It makes carpentry a really viable option for people looking to get into a trade where employment outcomes are very positive.’’

He noted the percentage of students from schools who were able to find work in the building sector after being involved in the Taranaki Futures Build a Bach project was extremely high. The new workshop facility also enables WITT to offer a one day a week Trades Academy programme to Year 12 and 13 secondary students.

That demand is certain to continue.

The Government is committed to increasing the number of new-build homes and says its $2 billion KiwiBuild scheme will deliver 100,000 houses over 10 years for first home buyers.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said last October Statistics NZ data showed around 30,000 residences were given consent annually on a national basis, and "our goal is to ramp that up to 40,000 or 50,000 and also build more state houses”.

He added, “we’ll be really cranking up the number of construction workers”.

The Level 3 course offered by WITT runs for 34 weeks and will provide students with the core skills of the trade, from site mark-outs to the “nuts and bolts” of the build. Graduates will leave WITT apprenticeship work-ready.

“Our stakeholders in Taranaki are excited by the addition of this course at WITT and are already encouraging people who come to them to enrol at WITT first and do the course.”

 WITT is offering Fees-Free study to eligible first-time domestic tertiary students, following the new Government policy confirmed in December.

To find out if you are eligible visit this website

The first day of the first semester at WITT in 2018 is not far away – February 26 - so potential students have time, but not a lot of it, to determine what they want to study and to get their paperwork completed in time.

Enrolment numbers are tracking ahead of 2017 figures and Faculty Leader Angela Ferguson says her advice is to get prepared now, rather than leave it too late and miss out on preferred choices.

Student surveys, of both domestic and international students, show WITT is a popular choice for students and the Polytechs success rate in a range of areas is high thanks to the quality of its tutors.

Carpentry tutor Chris Gibson, for example, will be embarking on his third house project on the campus this year.

Check out the options at WITT on

Picture: In March 2017 this home, built through the Taranaki Futures Build a Bach programme, was moved from the WITT site to Tarata Rd, east of Inglewood, for new owners Dorothy and Chris Andrews.