Fri 9 Feb 2018

Ride the building wave

The headline making news this week that at least 200 workers were being brought in from China to complete the building of the Auckland Park Hyatt underlines the importance of WITT’s drive to concentrate on providing engineering and trades programmes.

So says WITT’s programme manager, trades, Kyle Hall – and he adds that positions on those courses are still available.

“This year to date we have enrolled more than 120 full time students to study electrical, automotive, engineering and carpentry disciplines,” he said. “These are pre-apprenticeship programmes which will be a turning point in many of these students’ lives.”

WITT has promoted its New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) Carpentry programme this year, and the WITT council has responded to the demand for more builders across the country by approving the construction of a 264 square metre carpentry workshop on its New Plymouth campus.

Kyle Hall said the institute has enrolled more than 40 electrical, 30 automotive, 20 engineering and 30 carpentry students this year.

He believes those full-time student figures will rise as demand for builders rises.

Additionally WITT has students enrolled in the New Zealand Diploma in Mechanical Engineering L6.  This is complimented by enrolments in the Engineering Education 2 Employment (EE2E) government initiative to capture secondary school students from Year 10  13 and assist them into pathway Into Engineering Diplomas and ultimately a Bachelor of Engineering Technology.  These students will be studying one of the 16 diploma papers on offer at WITT.   Year 10–12 students will be involved in block courses, guest speakers, industry visits and information evenings.

Kyle Hall said WITT was also partnering with Fonterra Kapuni to offer the National Certificate in Welding Level 3 to 12 of their employees. 

Calling it an exciting new venture for WITT and industry in Taranaki, he said it is offered through a day release and block course format over the next two years and participants would be aiming for a national certificate at L3.

A growing demand for skilled tradespeople and engineers is being nurtured by major building projects.

The Government has committed to build 100,000 new homes over the next 10 years – in Taranaki there are plans to construct 60 affordable homes in Marfell, while the New Plymouth District Council is reporting what it calls a boom time for Waitara house sales and construction. Building consents have hit high levels in neighbouring provinces – including Manawatu/Whanganui where new records are being set.

Employment Minister Willie Jackson said the Government had to “wear” bringing in skilled workers from overseas, calling it a legacy of the previous government’s failure to invest in training.

WITT chief executive Barbara George said she hoped more people would look at engineering and trades programmes on offer at WITT and position themselves to be part of the building boom.

“There is a shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry and polytechs like WITT are working to address that by developing the next generation of trades people,” she said.

“I am encouraged by the uptake to date on these programmes – but I would like to see more men and women coming to WITT to talk to us about their options.”